Monday, December 7, 2009

The Carbonara Connection

Pasta "alla carbonara," aka "coal miner's pasta," has various tales of origin, ranging from the banal to the absurd. most believe that the dish's name stems from its popularity amongst italian coal works during WWII, however, a select few submit that the name is an ode to the Cabanari, a secret society responsible for the unification of italy.  Believe what you want, but do yourself a favor and use this recipe that I acquired while at Lupa.

Carbonara is traditionally made w/ guanciale, cured pig's jowl -- it's delicious, if not difficult to find.   In the highly probable event that you are unable to locate guanciale at your local deli, here are a few other options, in order of desirability: panchetta, prosciutto, and bacon.

You can make this dish w/ any type of pasta, however, long-strand pasta such as spaghetti, linguini, or bucatini yield the best results.

Pasta "alla Carbonara"
serves 2

1/2 # long strand pasta
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1-2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup guanciale, pancetta, prosciutto, or bacon - rough chopped
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup reserved pasta water

1. sauted the smashed garlic over medium heat until well-caramelized; ~6 minutes. add prosciutto and cook until just starting to brown; ~4 minutes. kill the heat, add black pepper and let chill while pasta cooks.

2. cook the pasta just shy of al dente. drain -- reserving about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water
-- and add the cooked pasta to the prosciutto/black pepper skillet. bring up to temp over low
heat; add cheese and a splash of water -- KILL THE HEAT.

3. add the egg yolks; toss to combine. add another splash of water to get things moving --
you want the pasta to have a rich creamy consistency. not like paste. not like soup. creamy -- kind of like caesar dressing.

i garnish w/ an additional egg yolk - left whole - and black pepper. if runny egg yolks aren't
your thing -- no worries -- leave it out, but i wouldn't skimp on the black pepper; it makes
the dish.

© 2009 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -