Classic Pasta Carbonara Recipe: A Master Class on How to Make Pasta Carbonara From a Chef by Chef Gigi
Carbonara. Eggs, egg yolks and Parmesan cheese. That’s all you need! Before you begin, there is something you should know: during some of this recipe, you will need to cross your fingers. The technical part is where you add uncooked egg yolks to hot pasta and hope they will not curdle. Of course, I share tips to make sure it works. Don't worry, because it's so worth getting out of your comfort zone! Once you get the master classic recipe down pat you can add anything from wild mushrooms to fresh peas and use any type of pasta.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 ounces guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), pancetta (Italian bacon) or slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 pound bucatini, fettuccine or other long-strand pasta
- 1 - 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup Parmesan, grated fine, plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup Pecorino, grated fine, plus more for garnish
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
Here's how to make it:
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
- Cut the pork into 1- to 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange in a very large skillet and drizzle with a little oil. (You will add the pasta to this skillet later.) Set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden brown and starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. making sure not to get too crunchy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a small plate to reserve the fat in the pan and any that will runoff the cooked pieces.
- Add about 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water to the skillet and begin scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon. Set the skillet aside.
- In a small bowl whisk egg yolks, egg, Parmesan and Pecorino in a medium bowl. Add fresh, coarsely ground peppercorns to the egg mixture.
- As soon as the pot of water is at a boil, cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until very, very al dente, about 4 minutes under than package directions.
- Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer pasta to the skillet with reserved guanciale fat and set over medium heat or scoop out about 2 to 3 cups of pasta cooking liquid and drain pasta in a colander. Cook pasta, stirring, until liquid is simmering (you’ll be able to tell because the pasta will be steaming), about 1 minute.
- Now the tricky part. Whisking constantly, add about 1 cup pasta cooking liquid to the egg mixture to warm it up. This is called tempering. Now it will be much safer to add the egg mixture to the hot pan without the high risk of curdling, but once the egg mixture is added to the pasta, don't stop tossing.
- Ready? Remove the skillet from the heat if you want to slow the process down.
- Add the egg mixture to the pasta and continue to cook on very low heat. Continue adding more pasta and pasta water by the 1/2 cupful and adjust the consistency until the sauce thickens just enough to lightly coat pasta, about 5 minutes. Do not rush this step or you risk ending up with a pan of pasta and scrambled eggs.
- As soon as you see wisps of steam rising from the egg mixture, that’s a good indication that the sauce is about to go from very liquid to perfectly thickened. Remove from heat and toss in cooked guanciale.
- Divide pasta among plates. Top with reserved Parmesan, Pecorino and cracked pepper. I like to top mine with a little arugula tossed in olive oil, lemon and salt.
Pro Tip: When you buy the pork, make sure to ask for it in a slab so that you can cut it into strips with your desired thickness, resulting in a much more chewy and crispy bite.
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