We love pasta carbonara, but it’s so rich we have it only once or twice a year. Ditalini bases her recipe on one from Mario Batali.
8 oz pancetta or bacon
1 lb spaghetti or other pasta (fettuccine works very well)
1 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
4 large eggs, whisked
Bring salted water to a boil, add pasta. While it’s cooking, cut up the pancetta and fry in a little olive oil (you can use bacon instead, but skip the olive oil since it will cook in its own fat). When cooked, remove from heat and save the fat (if using bacon save about half the fat). Drain the pasta when cooked al dente, saving 1/4 cup of the water, which you can now mix with the pancetta or bacon in the pan. In a large pot or bowl toss the cooked pasta, the pancetta with water & fat, 1 cup of the cheese, and the eggs (which will cook from the heat of the pasta). Season with black pepper, shake the remaining 1/4 of cheese over the top, and serve.
Notes: Pancetta gives the dish a crispier, saltier flavor. Bacon gives it a smoky, less salty flavor. Some recipes, including Mario Batali’s, call for separating the eggs, tossing the pasta with just the egg whites, then putting a raw yolk in the middle of each serving. Ditalini does not do that … she tosses the pasta with the whites and yolks, and we think most Americans would shy away from eating a bowl of pasta with a raw yolk in the middle.