Passion Project: Spaghetti Carbonara with Pancetta

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I don’t care much for bacon… Never have, and probably never will. I didn’t grow up with it, and though I enjoy the occasional strips that come with my scrambled eggs at hotel breakfasts, I have never bought a single pack. It’s not like I have anything against it, but it simply never crosses my mind. What I do love, however, is “pancetta”. Think diced Italian bacon, a.k.a the perfect addition to any pasta sauce. The most famous of them all being “Carbonara”.

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Pancetta comes from the pork belly and is cured in salt, much like bacon. On the contrary to most types of bacon though, it isn’t smoked. Pancetta therefore doesn’t have a smoky flavor to it. In fact, that’s precisely why I like it better than bacon. It doesn’t overpower the other flavors of the dish when I use it in sauces, which is great! Now what’s special about cooking bacon? After all, anyone can do it and there’s no way to mess it up. Agreed. So my aim here is to explore a traditional Italian recipe that incorporates that pork cut and highlight its flavor.

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Carbonara does the job perfectly! Pancetta takes the center stage in this traditional recipe. Its salty crispiness perfectly balances out the creaminess of the sauce. Not to mention that it adds great texture to the dish. I don’t use any cream in the sauce (like a lot of non-traditional restaurants do), because I let the raw egg bring a silky quality to it. Coupled with the tangy Parmesan cheese, you’re in for a treat! You can use a blend of Romano and Parmesan if you’d like. Another great tip is to toss the pasta in the pot where the pancetta cooked. Let it soak up all of the fat released by the pork belly for maximum flavors. Hurrah for pancetta! Bon appétit!

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Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 oz spaghetti pasta
  • 1/4-1/3 cup diced pancetta
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 egg
  • 1 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • about 3 tbsp pasta cooking water
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, grate the parmesan and whisk the egg. Mix them with a pinch of salt and pepper, and set aside.
  3. Dump the pasta in the boiling water and let it cook for the time indicated on the packaging.
  4. In another pot, let the pancetta sizzle with the garlic clove (after you smash it lightly with the side of your knife to release more of its flavor).
  5. When the pasta is cooked through, reserve about 3 tbsps of the cooking water and drain the rest. Toss the pasta around with the cooked pancetta and garlic to coat it with the fat that was released. Take out the garlic.
  6. Whisk the cooled down cooking water into the egg mixture until the sauce turns creamy. Turn off the heat and add the sauce to the pot with the pancetta and pasta. Toss well so that every strand is coated well.
  7. Garnish with some more black pepper and freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy!

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Temps Total: 15 minutes

Ingrédients

  • 80g de spaghetti
  • 1/4-1/3 tasse de pancetta en cubes
  • 1 gousse d’ail
  • 1 œuf
  • 30g de parmesan
  • about 3 c.s d’eau de cuisson des pâtes
  • sel de mer et poivre noir fraichement moulu

Étapes:

  1. Faites bouillir de l’eau salée dans une grande casserole.
  2. Pendant ce temps, râpez le parmesan, et battez l’œuf. Mélangez les deux avec un peu de sel et de poivre et mettez de côté.
  3. Faites cuire les pâtes pendant le temps indiqué (5 minutes pour des spaghetti fins).
  4. Dans une autre casserole, faites revenir la pancetta avec une gousse d’ail légèrement écrasée avec un couteau.
  5. Quand les pâtes sont cuites, mettez de côté 3 c.s d’eau de cuisson et égouttez le reste. Ajoutez les pâtes à la casserole avec la pancetta et l’ail, et mélangez de façon à bien enduire les spaghetti. Sortez la gousse d’ail.
  6. Mélangez l’eau de cuisson tempérée au mélange d’œuf et de parmesan jusqu’à ce qu’il devienne crémeux. Éteignez le feu et versez la sauce sur les pâtes. Mélangez pour bien recouvrir les spaghetti.
  7. Assaisonnez d’un dernier tour de poivre et d’une touche de parmesan en plus. Bon appétit!
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