It’s 4:45 on a Friday—the bewitching hour. The sun has been shining in your 3rd floor window all day, mocking you and your 9-to-5 schedule. There are still 25 emails to answer and all you can think about is a glass of wine and a quiet homemade dinner even though you’ll have to settle for a light beer and Chinese takeout because going to the grocery would be like going into war right now. Then nothing short of a miracle happens. When you finally get home as the sun eeks toward the horizon, your husband hands you a glass of wine and reminds you he’s making dinner. You look at him in awe. “Didn’t you get my email?” he asks.
Classic Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
What you need:
8 ounces guanciale, thinly sliced (can substitute pancetta or slab bacon cut into small pieces)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese, more for garnish
4 eggs, room temperature
1 pound spaghetti
salt to taste
What to do:
1. Apron Up!
2. Start Pasta: In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil.
3. Cook Guanciale: In a large skillet, heat oil. Stir in guanciale and cook (stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (approximately 6 minutes). Stir in pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer contents of skillet to a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool slightly.
4. Finish Pasta: Add spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente (approximately 8-10 minutes). Drain pasta and reserve 1 cup pasta water.
5. Finish Dish: Add the grated cheese and eggs to the slightly cooled guanciale. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir the mixture together until it become thick sauce (mayonnaise consistency). Transfer the cooked pasta (still hot) to the bowl and toss it with the sauce. Add a little pasta water at a time until the sauce coats the noodles and is creamy (you probably won’t need all of the water). Salt and pepper to taste.
6. Set the Table and serve immediately. Garnish with more Parmesan.
Note: Guanciale is made by rubbing in spice and drying the meat from a hog’s jowls. From start to finish, guanciale takes a minimum of four weeks, but the wait is worth it.
Recipe by Libbie Summers from her book, The Whole Hog Cookbook (Rizzoli)
Food Photography by Chia Chong