Classic spaghetti carbonara: spaghetti, eggs, pecorino Romano, guanciale, and black pepper. Sounds simple enough, right? According to Salumeria Rosi chef Cesare Casella, it is. His secret to perfect carbonara? "Simplicity," he said. "You’ve got to respect the traditional recipe and good ingredients — organic eggs, the best guanciale." That said, he doesn’t have a problem with including cream ("cream lets you make a mistake") or blending meats and cheeses for more complex flavors. Below, the master shares his recipe for this iconic Roman dish.
- 3 ounces bacon, pancetta and/or guanciale (sliced 1/8 inch crosswise)
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the palm of the hand
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ pound spaghetti
- ⅓ cup cream
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon grana padano
- 2 tablespoon pecorino Romano
- 2 egg yolks
- Chopped parsley
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Combine the pancetta and guanciale with garlic and oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook, adding the red pepper flakes about one minute into cooking. You want to render the fat without crisping the meat, about three to five minutes. Remove skillet from heat and set aside the meat.
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly undercooked.
The pasta can be now added directly to the pan with the bacon. Toss over medium-high heat. Add enough pasta water to the pan to bathe the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is al dente and the water is reduced. Discard the garlic.
Whisk together the cream and black pepper in a large bowl.
Add the cream to the spaghetti-bacon mixture. Toss well to combine and then let the cream reduce.
Add the grated Grana Padano and pecorino Romano and toss until it melts.
Finish the dish with the egg yolks and chopped parsley. Toss over heat for 30 to 60 seconds to warm. Be careful not to overcook or the eggs will scramble. Taste and season. Garnish with extra grated cheese and pepper to taste.