Carbonara is a rich pasta dish which originated in Rome. The cheese sauce is an emulsion created by mixing egg yolks with grated hard cheese and black pepper. You can choose between pecorino (which will give a much sharper tang) and parmesan, or go 50/50 by using both.
The star of this dish is guanciale, a type of cured meat prepared from pork cheeks. You might be familiar with pancetta in carbonara, however guanciale has a long curing process, resulting in a melting, silkier texture and more intense flavour.
Although the recipe might look lengthy, it’s actually extremely simple, just be sure to read to the end before you start!
Ingredients for carbonaraServes: 2
Method for carbonara
- First prepare the ingredients. Cut the guanciale into ½ cm slices, and then slice into batons ½ cm wide. Cut into 1 cm lengths.
- In a small bowl, mix together the grated cheese, egg, egg yolks, and black pepper.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add 1 tbsp salt and the spaghetti. Cook for 9-10 minutes or until al dente.
- Whilst the pasta cooks, fry the guanciale. Place a wide heavy-based pan over medium heat, and add the butter, guanciale and garlic. Fry for 8 minutes until the guanciale becomes crisp and much of the fat renders out. Tend to this very closely as it cooks, keeping moving the guanciale around in the pan and adjusting the heat – initially over medium-high heat, and then reducing to low to prevent the guanciale from burning as it crisps. Take care as it could spit. Lift out and discard the garlic when it browns. Move the pan off the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
- Drain the pasta, and when the guanciale pan looks cool enough not to spit, add the pasta and mix well. Tip the pasta and guanciale into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg mixture and mix well, until the cheese melts and the spaghetti is coated in a glossy sauce. Serve.