Pasta alla Carbonara

creamy, cheesy, richness. goodness.
That pretty much describes this elegant mess of fresh, simple and absolutely decadently delicious pasta.
Inspired by a meal I had at our favorite James Beard nominee & local gastropub Holeman & Finch creator, Linton Hopkins, I was determined to recreate this recipe at home in my own kitchen. Simple as it seems, I felt a bit intimidated trying to match my experience. It couldn't be done. But what I came to the table with was pretty darn good, if I say so myself. {I just did!}

Fresh pasta, good butter, cream and eggs are essential basics. No skimping here. You will regret and be sorely disappointed if you do. And, there is my special secret ingredient that made this recipe all mine and outrageously delicious.

Guaniciale {gwan-cha-lee}. Yes, pork cheeks. Trust me, this is taking the art of this pork products to a whole new level. Italian style, of course. It's my new favorite pantry protein. Guanciale is much like a pancetta, but has a more delicate and complex flavor. It's all in the quality of the meat and seasoning of the spices, and our friends at La Quercia make it like nobody else.

Over indulgence is to be enjoyed with this dish. Comfort food at its finest.


4 ounces guanciale {use pancetta or bacon if guanciale not available}
12 oz. fresh pasta
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup Reggiano- Parmiggiano cheese
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
* I prefer a coarse grind for the dish. I grind peppercorns weekly in a coffee grinder {NOT the same one I you use for coffee!}
Keep on hand at the stove in a little ceramic bowl to have at the ready.

Heat about 2 quarts of salted water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer until ready to cook the pasta.

Slice the guancile lengthwise into thin, thin, thin little strips. Then, cut them into about 2 inch pieces. In a saute pan, heat the guanciale over medium heat and render out the fat. When the guanciale is cooked to a perfect crispy light brown, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper-lined plate.

Keep 3 Tablespoons of the guanciale pan drippings in the pan and pour off the rest into a bowl to keep on hand for other recipes. Add the cream to the pan and cook over medium heat just until the cream reduces to a nice thick, sauce.

Turn up the heat on the boiling water and cook the pasta until al dente {about 3-4 minutes, depending on the type and thickness}. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the guanciale, reduced cream, grated cheese, salt {sidenote: the guanciale will add some salt naturally}, pepper. Toss gently just until the pasta is well coated. Taste for seasoning. Place in a serving bowl and top with the yolk only of an organic egg. Top with more grated cheese and serve immediately.

serves two.

Buon appetito!
copyright 2009 Alisa Barry

1 comment:

Anne Reeves said...

Hi Alisa! Thanks for coming by to say hello - your store & products are GORGEOUS, so I simply had to tell everyone. I'm happy to hear you like my blog, too! All the best, Anne Reeves