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Pasta Carbonara


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Ok, on to today’s recipe.  This simple pasta dish is rich and full of flavor.  The Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese gives the clingy sauce body.  Pancetta, yellow onions and cracked black pepper are the key flavors, lending salty, sweet and spicy notes, respectively.  The pasta only gets a light coating, so the dish is not too heavy.  I usually use a heavier noodle like bucatini.  I like it for the weight and texture in combiniation with the rustic sauce.  Serve this dish with a nice salad on the side to make it a great meal.

Pasta Carbonara


  • 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/4-inch thick and cut into 1 inch long, thin ribbons
  • 2 cups diced Vidalia or other yellow onion
  • 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water (divided use)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional cheese for garnish
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional cheese for garnish
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper


Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and a liberal amount of sea salt and cook just until al dente.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, wide saute pan over medium-high heat.  (The pan needs to be big enough to accomodate the cooked pasta)  Add the pancetta to the pan and saute for 3-4 minutes, so that it renders some, but not all of it’s fat.  Add the diced onion and cook until the onion is soft and browned on the edges, about 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.  Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the pancetta-onion mixture, along with the drained pasta.  Cook, while tossing to combine, for another 45 seconds.

Warm a large bowl you will serve the pasta in over a pot of boiling water for 15-20 seconds.  This will help everything stay warm for serving.

Transfer the contents of the saute pan into the large, warm bowl.  Add the cheeses, egg yolks, pepper and a few more tablespoons of the pasta water, and toss woth tongs to combine.  The residual heat from the cooked pasta will cook the eggs.  If the sauce is too thick, thin with remaining pasta water, a little at a time.  If it is too thin, add more cheese.  It should look rather saucy, but the pasta will set up as it cools in the serving bowl.  Serve warm and garnish with more grated cheese.

You should not need any salt, since the pasta cooks in well-salted water, and the cheese and pancetta are salty.  Makes 4-5 servings.  Enjoy!

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