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Italian Home Cooking
by Julia Della Croce
Most versions of spaghetti alla carbonara outside of Italy include cream, but there is no cream in the genuine recipe, which dates from World War Two. By some accounts, Italian women invented the new sauce for pasta when presented with bacon and egg rations by their American GI lovers. In any case, the sauce ingredients and method here are considered by Italian culinary historians to be the original and authentic version. While carbonara sauce was designed for spaghetti, I find fusilli are also a pleasant cut to use because the sauce collects nicely in its grooves.
• 5 eggs,beaten
• 3/4 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for serving
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pound imported Italian spaghetti or fusilli
• 2 tablespoons kosher salt
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 pound pancetta or guanciale (cheek bacon), thickly sliced and diced
1. In a bowl, combine the beaten eggs with the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper.
2. Select a serving bowl for the pasta and keep it warm.
3. Fill a pot with 5 quarts water and bring it to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti or fusilli and the kosher salt together and stir. Check the package instructions for cooking time. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is 2 minutes away from being al dente.
4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta or guanciale and saute over medium heat until nicely colored and crispy. Set aside.
5. When the pasta is ready, drain it, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water. Transfer it to the skillet with the pancetta and toss over low heat. Add 1/2 cup or so of the cooking water to moisten. Simmer until the water is nearly evaporated.
6. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the pasta to the serving bowl, and immediately add the egg and cheese mixture, tossing vigorously to distribute the sauce while making sure it does not coagulate into scrambled egg. It should not exceed 160°F. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved cooking water. Serve at once, passing the pepper mill and the grated cheese at the table.
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