The Perfect Carbonara is Possible
Three glossy, eggy steps to success
If you’re like me, you’ll be focusing this weekend on cooking a large slab of lamb for Easter and otherwise subsisting on food that takes minimal effort. But not everybody is doing that, and if you’re not — what better time to make a beautiful carbonara?
Carbonara can be tricky, and I think the risk of getting it wrong — ending up with scrambled eggs and spaghetti — scares some people off. I’ve certainly had my share of carbonara failures. But there are some very effective ways to avoid disaster and produce a spectacularly glossy, deep-yellow sauce studded with guanciale and peppercorns:
Use really good eggs, and get the yolk-to-white proportions right. Spring chickens beget beautiful spring eggs, so before making this, I went down to my nearest farmer’s market and bought some high-quality eggs for the sauce. Whether or not you have access to farm-fresh eggs, I would look for the best ones you can find — no industrially-produced jumbos in styrofoam. Furthermore, the yolks are far more important in carbonara; only use one full egg, and 3-4 yolks.
Create a “paste” and emulsify with guanciale fat. When making carbonara properly, you want to studiously avoid the somewhat lazy practice of sliding some beaten eggs into cooked pasta and grating cheese over it. Beat your eggs well in a small bowl, and then stir in a colossal amount of grated Pecorino Romano to make a thick sludge or paste. Add in reserved guanciale fat to further emulsify it and amp up the flavor. This will be the base of your sauce, to which you will add the pasta.