With a bowl full of noodles, you just can’t go wrong. However, we’d like to think you can do better. Think bowl full of noodles with a cheesy, smokey, peppery sauce. Now you’ve gone from a bowl full of noodles to an Italian classic called Carbonara. Carbonara with Pancetta to be exact.
The beauty of Carbonara is in its simplicity but with anything that relies on simplicity quality is a must. Quality is the difference between just a sauce and a delicacy.
Another delicious fact about this pasta Carbonara recipe is that the sauce coats each and every single noodle. Not too little, not too much but just right. Which means no pools of sauce at the bottom of the bowl.
History Behind Carbonara:
Our culinary journey takes us to Italy. Italy is a big country, at least on the culinary front. Napoli is known for pizza. Tuscany is all about their bread and Veneto lays claim on Tiramisu. So where does Carbonara fit in? Rome. Usually when we think of Rome, we think of coliseums, catacombs, and ornate cathedrals. Now you can add this fabulous bowl of saucy noodles to the list.
Carbonara was not known before the Second World War. Carbonara didn’t start showing up in cookbooks until the 1940s and 1950s. Even though it is considered a Roman dish, it became popular at a time when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by United States troops.
Caronara with Pancetta Breakdown:
Noodles: We chose to use the classic spaghetti noodle. Which means you can find them easily at any grocery store. If you want to get creative, go for it! Fettuccini would be a nice alternative. Whichever you choose, pick a noodle that can hold up to stirring and saucing. We do not recommend angel hair as it will clump and break because it is too delicate.
Eggs: Eggs are the silent partner in this amazing sauce. In fact, without the eggs and the egg yolks there would be no sauce at all. It’s what makes the sauce thicken and adhere to the noodles so nicely. At Utopihen, we know the value of great eggs but that’s not surprising because it’s our passion. That’s why we love to share our eggs and Pasture Raised egg facts every chance we get. Our journey for the perfect egg starts with happy hens that lay healthy eggs. Which means, when you use Utopihen eggs in a recipe, you and your family are truly getting good quality protein and more nutrients like omega-3s.
Parmigiano-Reggiano: There’s nothing like a high-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano. Slightly salty and oh so creamy as it melts. We find this cheese at its best when it’s bought in a small wedge or brick. Then grate it yourself with a fine grater. Grating the cheese yourself will make certain that the cheese is fresh. This means a creamier sauce.
Pepper: Okay, so it is not as glamorous as the star players above. But pepper gives the “pop” to our saucy details. Anytime we have all this mellow creaminess we need the pepper.
Pancetta: If the pepper is the pop, then Pancetta is the one, two, punch! Italian bacon at its finest. This is the smokey, salty, finishing touch that brings this Carbonara all together.
Tips for Making the Perfect Spaghetti Carbonara:
1.) This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure to read the instructions through at least two times. A lot of steps happen quickly, one right after another near the end so it is best to be prepared ahead of time.
2.) Cookware – You will need a pan to sauté the Pancetta. A large pan to cook your spaghetti. A Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pans for bringing it all together. A heatproof liquid measuring cup for your pasta water.
3.) Don’t forget the step to reserve some of the pasta water. Pasta water has starch in it. The starch is what helps bring the sauce together, it acts as a mild thickener.
4.) If grating your Parmgiano-Reggiano ahead of time, cover tightly with plastic wrap. You can even lay the plastic wrap directly onto the shredded cheese. You want to ensure that it doesn’t dry out. If it dries out, it will not melt as smoothly.
5.) Drain your pasta quickly and do not leave it to sit too long in the strainer. The longer the pasta sits in the strainer, the more likely it will stick together. You may be tempted to add oil to your water to stop the noodles from sticking, but don’t. The oil will coat the noodles and prevent the sauce from coating the noodles.
So, whether it is for family dinner night, date night, or you need a comforting meal, Carbonara with Pancetta is the obvious choice.
Caronara with Pancetta
- 1 Dutch Oven
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Egg Yolks Room Temperature
- 2 Eggs Room Temperature
- 3 Oz. Shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 4 Oz. Pancetta
- 2 Tbsp Salt for your pasta water
- 1 Lb. Spaghetti
- Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, pepper and finely chopped parsley
- You will need a Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pan). Place the oil in it and set it aside. Note that this is not the same pan you will cook your spaghetti in.
- Whisk the egg yolks, whole eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and pepper together. Make certain that your eggs are whisked completely.
- Sauté the pancetta until cooked and fat has rendered out. Set aside to cool slightly. Remove 3 Tbsp of the rendered fat and place into a Dutch oven.
- Bring 6 Qts of water to a boil and add salt.
- Once the water is boiling add your pasta, cook 2 minutes fewer than the instructions on the box. Just as the pasta is finished cooking, scoop out 1 3/4 cups of the pasta water with a heatproof measuring cup.
- Add 1 cup of the pasta liquid to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Drain your pasta in a strainer and pour it into the Dutch Oven.
- Cook the pasta quickly and keep it moving, stirring constantly, you do not want the pasta to stick to the bottom of the pan. Pasta should be al dente and water should reduce by half. Take the Dutch oven off of the heat.
- Go to your egg mixture and whisk in 1/2 cup of hot water into your egg mixture.
- Stream this egg mixture into the Dutch oven, keep stirring constantly so the egg mixture gets evenly distributed. Cheese should melt and the egg mixture will thicken and form a sauce that adheres to the spaghetti.
- If you find you need to thin your sauce add the remaining pasta water 1 Tbsp at a time..
- Fold in your pancetta.
- Scoop into bowls with tongs.
- Sprinkle with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, and salt and pepper as needed.