RECIPE: Spaghetti Carbonara
As with all simple dishes, the secret is in the quality of the ingredients, in this case, pancetta, eggs, and Parmasan cheese. Pancetta, which means "little stomach," is cured (but not smoked) pig's belly that is sold either in a slab or rolled up like a jelly roll. Look for pancetta with more fat than meat, because it's the fat that is going to make this sauce flavorful. I always have some pancetta in my freezer. That way, I know I can always make myself a fast, delicious meal.
Make this for one, two, or four. Any more and you'll have too much spaghetti to handle. It's a great dish for those evenings when you're home alone. For one person, halve the recipe, using one egg and one yolk; for hour people, just double everything, but use two frying pans. This dish is great with a watercress salad.
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 ounces / 200 g spaghetti
3 1/2 ounces / 100 g pancetta
1 egg yolk
1 cup / 30 g very finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti, stir, and return to a boil. Adjust the heat so the water boils gently and cook until the spaghetti is al dente, 10 - 12 minutes. Drain well.
While the water is coming to a boil, cut the pancetta into matchstick- sized pieces. Place a large frying pan over very low heat and add the pancetta. Cook gently so that it renders its fat and becomes crisp, about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolk, season well with pepper and whisk in half of the cheese.
When the pancetta is cooked, pour he wine into the frying pan and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the drained spaghetti to the pan. Toss the spaghetti to coat it with the pancetta and fat. Pour in the egg mixture and continue to toss until the spaghetti is coated. The heat of the spaghetti and pan will cook the eggs.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve with the remaining cheese on the side.
TIP: If your spaghetti is not ready when the pancetta is finished, deglaze the pan anyway and remove it from the head. Reheat and the pancetta and wine before adding the cooked spaghetti.
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GFC's Review of "Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes" including links to other recipes from the book.