A great carbonara is about balancing the cheese, eggs, pork, and pasta. Because there are so few ingredients, it’s important that they be high quality to make this dish a stunner. The secret is tossing beaten eggs with hot pasta off the heat so that the eggs thicken into a velvety sauce without scrambling. Eat the pasta very hot, while the sauce is still smooth and creamy.
Bring an 8-quart pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and 2 Tbs. salt and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the package directions, stirring often to prevent sticking. Reserve 1 cup of the water and then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, put the guanciale or pancetta and olive oil in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet (not cast iron), and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown but not yet crisp, 3 to 5 minutes for guanciale; 5 to 7 minutes for pancetta (you don’t want to render all the fat). Remove the skillet from the heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmigiano, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper until well combined. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water.
Immediately after draining the pasta, add it to the skillet and then quickly pour in the egg mixture, tossing continuously with tongs, until the pasta is well coated, 15 to 30 seconds. Add more of the reserved pasta cooking water if needed to achieve a creamy consistency.
Serve hot, sprinkled with additional black pepper to taste.
nutrition information (per serving):
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Photo: Scott Phillips