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Ok, I will try to put this in as nice a way possible....

Cream has no place in Carbonara...at least, NOT in mine! :raz:

The way we do it here, which we have learned/refined over a few trips to Italy, was for every person who is eating 1 egg yolk, and for every 2 people, 1 egg white...this ratio really allows for the 'sauce' to adhere to the pasta, but thats about it, from my experiences you dont want a sauce for carbonara, you just want the egg/cheese/bacon fat to adhere to the pasta, which it does with all that cheese and starch...

Carbonara is very basic, I have NEVER heard of or seen Onions/Garlic/Chili in a carbonara, but I am sure they would add flavour, and be quite tastey, but then it wouldnt be a Carbonara...

One place in Tuscany deglazed their pan after frying the pancetta with some white wine, which works nicely with this dish, prior to adding the pasta and cheese mixture...

Other than that, everything on here sounds right....but damn, do I ever want some Carbonara right now!

-Justin

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Even though I don't use cream in Carbonara and this has been hashed and rehashed here, I still wanted to thank Gastro888 for the great photos and post on how he/she made this "dish." :smile:

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Ok, I will try to put this in as nice a way possible....

Cream has no place in Carbonara...at least, NOT in mine!  :raz:

The way we do it here, which we have learned/refined over a few trips to Italy, was for every person who is eating 1 egg yolk, and for every 2 people, 1 egg white...this ratio really allows for the 'sauce' to adhere to the pasta, but thats about it, from my experiences you dont want a sauce for carbonara, you just want the egg/cheese/bacon fat to adhere to the pasta, which it does with all that cheese and starch...

I know, I know, mea culpa! :laugh:

I wasn't sure what gave that carbonara that silkiness in Rome - I figured a hint of cream or half and half. After doing some research, I saw recipes (granted, I should've done this BEFORE I make my first attempt but well, ya know... :laugh: ) that called for the pasta and some pasta water to be added to pan that was used to fry up the pancetta/bacon/guanciale and then the egg/cheese combo added in. Another recipe did call for the egg whites. But wouldn't the egg whites make it curddle? Given that whites alone cook faster and the residual heat of the pasta is hot enough to cook the whites...

And I should've mentioned that I used 4 egg yolks...for me. :blush: I guess that throws the ratio off, huh? :laugh::raz:

Thanks, Susan!

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I have eaten carbonara in Italy, pretty damn good.

I have made it myself sometimes with heavy cream,

usually without. It is such a comforting, tasteful dish and

gastro888 you're post and pictures have me wanting to

make some carbonara tonite.

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Thanks and go for it howard88!

Oh, I got some proscuitto ends (well, funny looking slabs) from Whole Foods Market today. In the near future, I will attempt to make this dish with it and a combo of the guanciale and pancetta I used earlier. I'm thinking I'll scope out some other variety of pancetta as well.

Farm fresh eggs make such a difference...don't use the supermarket ones!

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4 egg yolks for one person??? I feel bad for your arteries :raz:

The method I use in order to not make the egg cook, is I just strain the pasta, take it off, let it cool for 30 seconds, then I add the egg/cheese on top of that, and sprinkle pancetta...

Ok, I will try to put this in as nice a way possible....

Cream has no place in Carbonara...at least, NOT in mine!  :raz:

The way we do it here, which we have learned/refined over a few trips to Italy, was for every person who is eating 1 egg yolk, and for every 2 people, 1 egg white...this ratio really allows for the 'sauce' to adhere to the pasta, but thats about it, from my experiences you dont want a sauce for carbonara, you just want the egg/cheese/bacon fat to adhere to the pasta, which it does with all that cheese and starch...

I know, I know, mea culpa! :laugh:

I wasn't sure what gave that carbonara that silkiness in Rome - I figured a hint of cream or half and half. After doing some research, I saw recipes (granted, I should've done this BEFORE I make my first attempt but well, ya know... :laugh: ) that called for the pasta and some pasta water to be added to pan that was used to fry up the pancetta/bacon/guanciale and then the egg/cheese combo added in. Another recipe did call for the egg whites. But wouldn't the egg whites make it curddle? Given that whites alone cook faster and the residual heat of the pasta is hot enough to cook the whites...

And I should've mentioned that I used 4 egg yolks...for me. :blush: I guess that throws the ratio off, huh? :laugh::raz:

Thanks, Susan!

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Mmmmmm Carbonara....now I have to make some,soon.

Guanciale or pancetta large dice sauteed in a little olive oil and I let it

brown enough that when I take a ladle of the spagetti water and add

it to the pan it looses a little colour and doing this also deeply flavours the

water.When added to the finished dish it adds a depth of flavour I prefer.

And I would like to think that might have been done to extract all the possible

flavour considering the origin of the dish.Whole eggs and a combo of parm/pecorino and lots of large cracked black pepper....nothing else otherwise

it morphs into other villages cuisines......just look what Rome did to the dish.

Anyway,I like to heat up a large serving bowl,and at this point I would add the pasta water to the renderings giving some ceremony with the steam rising to the ceiling as I add it to the bowl,then the spagetti,a few tosses,then the egg/cheese

combo,pepper a few more tosses.......a little more cheese.....craving satisfied.

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Since pancetta is sometimes hard to find in Kansas, I use thick cut peppered bacon

that I cook in olive oil with crushed garlic. I whip whole eggs and a little sour cream and grate parmesan, romano and coarse black pepper into the egg mixture, and the toss this with the drained pasta. Then I add the bacon and serve.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

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  • 1 year later...

First off phenominal thread. I have learned a ton and will implement these tips within the week.

The one part I am still unclear on is the eggs. For a pound of pasta, my recipe calls for 3 whole eggs and 1 yolk. It seems like the general wisdom in this thread would call for yolks though.

Would most of you ratchet up the yolks a bit and use more? Would you then use less whole eggs?

Per one pound of pasta, what would you suggest as the optimal egg combonation for carbonara?

Edited by Judd Icious Hand (log)
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I'm fairly surprised that no one mentions parsley in creating their carbonara. My favorite trick is to add some basil and some mint along with the parsley. Both play well with the smokey cured pork and the sharp cheese.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I'm fairly surprised that no one mentions parsley in creating their carbonara.  My favorite trick is to add some basil and some mint along with the parsley.  Both play well with the smokey cured pork and the sharp cheese.

You can add basil, mint, oregano, thyme...cherbil...whatever. But it aint Carbonara :raz:

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You can add basil, mint, oregano, thyme...cherbil...whatever.  But it aint Carbonara  :raz:

I'll live with the shame...

And keep in mind that my wife likes how I make it, and her happiness is critical to my well-being :biggrin:

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Here's an interesting take on carbonara that I had in New Orleans at Herbsaint Restaurant:

gallery_2_2758_72956.jpg

An egg is poached and then deep fried, with guanciale bacon in large peices. When you puncture the egg, it leaks the runny yolk all over, really good.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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  • 2 years later...

Tonight for dinner I made Linguini Carbonara:

gallery_56799_5710_35953.jpg

I used the Guanciale I just finished making (see Charcuterie topic for details) and use a recipe from one of Bugialli's books as a starting place. Sometimes I wonder if Bugialli ever bothers to read his own recipes: he has you saute the Guanciale over "the lowest possible heat" so that the fat all renders out "to make the dish as light as possible." But he doesn't discard any of the fat, so you just end up with a fat slick on the pasta. It tastes good, but it has a quite greasy mouthfeel. He also has you add additional olive oil, which seems completely unnecessary. And you add the garlic at the beginning of cooking the Guanciale, which causes it to brown... is that intended? I hope not: I hold the garlic out until just before combining with the pasta at the end. I also like to add a bit more egg and a lot more cheese than he calls for.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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My suspicion is that the trick started to be used in big hotel kitchens to make the dish more manageable in those conditions.

albiston--I think you nailed it right there. But even if the academia has a cream-based recipe, I'm still a purist.

I have a question for some of the people on this thread (and it may be the start of another thread): What is your opinion of Grana Padano vs. Parmigiano-Reggiano? And I mean good, properly aged (18 to 24 months) Grana Padano. Not this 12-month stuff they try to pawn off as "Poor Man's Parmigiano-Reggiano."

David

You mean in carbonara or in general? If in carbonara, nothing called "padano" anything could even be in the running. The real debate, if you can call it that, is between parmigiano and pecorino romano. Pecorino is certainly the more "philological," i.e., respectful of the original dish, which comes from the hinterland of Lazio/Abruzzo, but most cooks today use a combination of parmigiano and pecorino, the deliciousness of parmigiano being difficult to deny.

Edited by Maureen B. Fant (log)

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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And you add the garlic at the beginning of cooking the Guanciale, which causes it to brown... is that intended? I hope not: I hold the garlic out until just before combining with the pasta at the end.

I agree that browned garlic in carbonara doesn't sound all that good... though to be honest, I never put garlic in my carbonara anyway. Onion, on the other hand, is key, its sweetness balancing out the richness and salt of the dish. But you want the onion translucent, not browned.

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And you add the garlic at the beginning of cooking the Guanciale, which causes it to brown... is that intended? I hope not: I hold the garlic out until just before combining with the pasta at the end.

I agree that browned garlic in carbonara doesn't sound all that good... though to be honest, I never put garlic in my carbonara anyway. Onion, on the other hand, is key, its sweetness balancing out the richness and salt of the dish. But you want the onion translucent, not browned.

Interestingly enough, I just looked at a number of cookbooks, including two Roman cookbooks, Marcella, della Croce, et. al., and none of them have onions in the recipes.

Garlic is sometimes shown, but in those recipes, the whole garlic cloves are heated just until browned and then removed from the dish.

Cream is sometimes shown as an optional ingredient as well, and I, like Maureen, like to use a mix of parm and pecorino.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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And you add the garlic at the beginning of cooking the Guanciale, which causes it to brown... is that intended? I hope not: I hold the garlic out until just before combining with the pasta at the end.

I agree that browned garlic in carbonara doesn't sound all that good... though to be honest, I never put garlic in my carbonara anyway. Onion, on the other hand, is key, its sweetness balancing out the richness and salt of the dish. But you want the onion translucent, not browned.

Interestingly enough, I just looked at a number of cookbooks, including two Roman cookbooks, Marcella, della Croce, et. al., and none of them have onions in the recipes.

Garlic is sometimes shown, but in those recipes, the whole garlic cloves are heated just until browned and then removed from the dish.

Cream is sometimes shown as an optional ingredient as well, and I, like Maureen, like to use a mix of parm and pecorino.

Interesting. In The Fine Art of Italian Cooking Bugialli has you chop the garlic fine and add it early. His description makes it sound to me like he is making modifications to (what he considers to be) the original recipe, which is a little unusual for him, but I gather he thinks the original is "too heavy." He recommends a blend of parm and pecorino, and a bit of red pepper flakes, but no onion.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I use neither cream nor onion when making spaghetti alla carbonara, and on the occasions I incorporate garlic in this dish I follow the practice of warming a few crushed whole cloves in the oil and then discarding them.

One problem that I think many Americans have when making this dish is the desire for the guanciale (or pancetta or other cured fatty pork) to be crispy like American-style bacon. This leads to overcooking and overproduction of brown reaction products, which in turn makes the dish seem too "colored." Rather, the fatty pork should be slowly rendered just until it begins to think about getting a few crisp spots on the outside, and no further. I prefer to use thin slices of guanciale for this rather than the cubes that others use (I also think this shape is easier to twirl up with the spaghetti).

I also like Batali's trick of reserving the egg yolks and placing an unbroken yolk in a "nest" of spaghetti on each plate to be mixed together with the pasta by each diner (warmed dishes are essential for this).

Using cream in spaghetti alla carbonara is a "cheating" workaround, similar to the use of cream in risotto, for those who are not confident of their ability to create a properly creamy texture using just eggs and pork fat.

Lots of extra-coarse cracked pepper is absolutely essential.

--

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Interestingly enough, I just looked at a number of cookbooks, including two Roman cookbooks, Marcella, della Croce, et. al., and none of them have onions in the recipes.

I got my onion-including recipe from Roman friends of mine. Not that that proves anything of course (and it's silly IMO to fetishize "authenticity" in a dish like this), but there you go.

Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)
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I use neither cream nor onion when making spaghetti alla carbonara, and on the occasions I incorporate garlic in this dish I follow the practice of warming a few crushed whole cloves in the oil and then discarding them.

One problem that I think many Americans have when making this dish is the desire for the guanciale (or pancetta or other cured fatty pork) to be crispy like American-style bacon.  This leads to overcooking and overproduction of brown reaction products, which in turn makes the dish seem too "colored."  Rather, the fatty pork should be slowly rendered just until it begins to think about getting a few crisp spots on the outside, and no further.  I prefer to use thin slices of guanciale for this rather than the cubes that others use (I also think this shape is easier to twirl up with the spaghetti).

I also like Batali's trick of reserving the egg yolks and placing an unbroken yolk in a "nest" of spaghetti on each plate to be mixed together with the pasta by each diner (warmed dishes are essential for this).

Using cream in spaghetti alla carbonara is a "cheating" workaround, similar to the use of cream in risotto, for those who are not confident of their ability to create a properly creamy texture using just eggs and pork fat.

Lots of extra-coarse cracked pepper is absolutely essential.

Agree with everything, and never use cream in my carbonara either. Absolutely essential not to get the bacon-ish product crispy.

And while The Fine Art... is an excellent primer, Bugialli is, after all, a Florentine, and you know how they can be about cooking :wink: .

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 1 year later...

I have a question about the egg making the sauce for the carbonara. Exactly how "eggy", if at all, is it supposed to taste? My problem is I don't like the taste of eggs on their own. I'll eat a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich if I'm starving, but I'd rather do without the egg. I want to try making this the real way at least once so I'm going to do that tonight, but should the egg be a prominent flavor component in this dish? I've never had or made this dish, so I don't know exactly what I'm looking for. If I wind up not liking my results, I'm not above omitting the egg, subbing in some cream and then calling it almost-carbonara-but-not-really for the authenticity police.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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Well, that was easy. And very delicious. I pretty much eyeballed everything and made enough for two people. I started boiling half a pound of spagetti in a minimal amount of salted water. Whole Foods only had thin-sliced, prepackaged panchetta, so that's what I used. I cut that into about 1 inch strips and rendered until just before crispy. Took the panchetta out of the pan and placed on the side. Took the pan off of the heat and added 2 healthy spoons of pasta water to the remaining bacon fat. Stirred a heathly handful each of pecorino and parmigiana. Now we were getting somewhere. The sauce was nice and smooth. Added the panchetta and pasta back in the pan to coat everything. Finally, I took a fresh egg, quickly whisked it together, and added it to the still-very-warm pasta in the pan along with about 20 cracks of pepper and mixed everything together. Silky, smooth, startlingly easy and delicious.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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Quick question though; how does this fare as a leftover? I have some leftover from last night, I wasn't sure if I should ditch it because of the egg. What do you think?

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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