Spaghetti Alla Carbonara (Spaghetti with Egg-Pancetta Sauce)
This Roman dish is sometimes called "spaghetti with bacon and eggs" on tourist menus. Pancetta, of course, is not bacon, because it is not smoked; do not substitute bacon. To make it well and with as much lightness as possible, cook the pancetta slowly to remove the fat. This recipe contains just enough pancetta fat and eggs to have all the sauce well incorporated. There is nothing worse in carbonara than to have excess fat and unincorporated egg sitting on the bottom. This version should give a spicy, but not greasy carbonara, one that is as light as the dish can be.
Put a large quantity of cold water in a stockpot. Set on the heat.
While the water is heating, cut pancetta into small pieces and chop the garlic very fine. Put the pancetta and garlic in a saucepan with the olive oil, hot pepper flakes (if used), and salt (salt should be added depending on the saltiness of the pancetta). Place the saucepan on very low heat for 12 to 15 minutes. The pancetta should brown very, very slowly, so that all the fat is rendered out.
In the meantime, beat the eggs and combine with the grated cheese.
When the water reaches the boiling point, add coarse salt to taste, then the pasta and cook until it is al dente (9 to 12 minutes, depending on brand). Drain the spaghetti well, then place it in a serving bowl. Quickly spoon the hot contents of saucepan over it. Toss; then, just as quickly, add the eggs and cheese. Grind black pepper plentifully over the dish, as it should be very peppery, then toss very well and serve hot.
Yield: Serves 4
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