I have finally perfected the glory that is a truly delicious carbonara.
All of these years I have been operating under the misconception that a carbonara is rife with milk, cream, butter, insert lactose-intolerant nightmare here…but no, it’s actually much simpler than that. In fact, a carbonara IS simple. There are very few ingredients, very few steps, and it takes very few minutes to scarf it up.
I just spent a long weekend in Rome, eating my way through the city, and something that became apparent to me on my fourth dish of spaghetti carbonara in two days was the color: a Roman carbonara is a rich yellow bordering on orange. American-style carbonara, in comparison, is a pale, lunar white. Now I know why: a Roman carbonara features egg yolks and an American carbonara piles on the cream. Both can be delicious but for the religious experience, follow this recipe (double the ingredients per additional portion) and you will find yourself on the divine road to carbonara:
The real deal recipe calls for guanciale – pork cheek – but as I couldn’t find it here in Austria, I resorted to a Tiroler Speck which crisps similarly in the pan while retaining a luxurious give. Whatever you choose to use (the American go-to would be pancetta), dice it and fry it up in its own fat for approximately five minutes. At the same time, mix two eggs yolks with a quarter cup of shredded Peco Romano (a mild sheep’s cheese that melts like a dream) at the bottom of a bowl. Get your water boiling and add some salt – the salt in the water and in the meat will be the only seasoning that you need! Once you pop your spaghetti into the boiling water, you can remove the meat from the heat so that it can cool a bit. I let my spaghetti boil for approximately six minutes. Strain it and then pour the boiling hot spaghetti into the bowl with the yolks and cheese and mix vigorously – you’ve got to coat that spaghetti! – for a good one to two minutes until you can see – and most importantly hear – the sauce come together into a creamy consistency. Pop in the meat and continue mixing.
Say thank you to Rome.