Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Our days are winding down here. We shipped home some boxes of stuff today and will be cleaning the apartment and packing suitcases over the next few days. We have begun doing things “for the last time” here in Miami. As in, “this will be the last Monday that we have gelato cones after school” or “tomorrow will be our last after-dinner-swim at Miami Beach”.

I have been trying to clean out the fridge and so the meals around here have been less than blog worthy. We have had quesadillas and sandwiches and hamburgers in an attempt to use up at least some of the condiments we have accumulated. How is it possible to have gathered so many jars of mustard, capers, anchovies, ketchup, relish, hot sauce(s) in only two and a half months?

The other night there was some pasta in the pantry, a few eggs and a hunk of parmesan in the fridge and a bouquet of parsley in a glass on the counter.

I was inspired by Tracy’s carbonara triumph a few weeks ago and remembered I had a this bookmarked recipe from Robin.

I used guanciale as Robin suggests. Guanciale is pork jowl that has been cured using salt and pepper and so it doesn’t have the same smokey flavour as bacon or the really salty taste of pancetta. I found some at the Epicure Market here in South Beach but if you live in Vancouver you can also find it at Oyama Meats at Granville Island. In this particular pasta I really love using guanciale over bacon as it has a more subtle flavour that seems almost sweetly spicy to me. Glen doesn’t share my opinion as he prefers the smokiness of bacon. We have agreed to disagree on this one.

Once you figure out whether it will be guanciale/pancetta or bacon the rest of this dish couldn’t be easier. It really does come together in mere minutes and so is perfect if you have limited time AND limited resources. There are so many versions of pasta alla carbonara floating around out there but as is often the case, simple is best. Pasta, eggs (whole eggs and/or yolks) pork that has been cut into cubes and then rendered to make it a salty crunchy component, some grated cheese. Then there is black pepper. Make sure, as Robin says, to use a decent amount. It really helps to balance the other flavours. I also added a few cloves of minced garlic and some chopped parsley.

One final bit of info regarding carbonara technique. Have your eggs well seasoned, mixed and ready to go and combine the pasta with the eggs OFF the heat. Otherwise you may up with scrambled eggs and pasta which actually doesn’t taste terrible but sort of wrecks the whole silky, creamy sauce that a carbonara is known for.

Now, it is back to packing suitcases for me!

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10 Responses to Spaghetti alla Carbonara

  1. Lyn says:

    Hi Julie, it’s been a while since I visited Kitchen Culinaire and so was somewhat surprised that you were packing up to leave Miami already – last time I was on the site you had only just arrived – time goes so fast! Hope you enjoyed South Beach, fun place to hang out for a while. Here in Ireland we are in the throes of a very wet and windy autumn, I could do with a little South Beach myself but will have to make do with the warmth brought by some comfort food; slow cooked lamb shanks and plum and apple cobbler on the menu this week. Safe journey home

  2. Do you know what would go great with this? An Octopus salad.
    Just putting it out there.

    See you soon!

  3. Sheryl says:

    Where are you on this Sunday? Are you in the Bahamas yet? I hope you aren’t in NY – though Jenny suggests that you check out “Eataly” … she loved it!
    See you soooon !

  4. LESLIE THOMAS says:

    You might like La Esquina on Kenmare Street or perhaps Cafe Mogador on St. Mark’s in the East Village. Both favs of mine.

    I am ready to welcome you all home. xoxo

  5. eMCee2 says:

    Hey Julie.
    So – we made this dish last night (bacon instead of… whatever that other porky thing is) :). Worked out well… and only a minor bit of swearing on our parts (not really).
    I should really try more of your recipes… but maybe Aubin will have some time soon (ha!).
    Then again, perhaps you would like me to concentrate on other things 🙂
    xo, mc

  6. Tracy says:

    I’ll second Denise’s “yum”…And I must say, your chop of parsley looks more like a delicate and precise chiffonade. I’ll bet it tasted perfect.

  7. matt says:

    one of my favorite pasta dishes of all time. Such simplicity, and reliance on good ingredients! It is actually really easy to make guanciale at home too!

  8. Denise: Thanks for the yum. It really was.

    Lyn: So glad you stopped by! Funny how time flies. we had an amazing time in South Beach but now that I have wrapped my head around heading home I am very excited. I can’t wait to start cooking some cold weather soups and stews. Your lamb shanks with a plum and apple cobbler sound amazing!

    Ross: Everything tastes better with an octopus salad, especially when eaten in Italy!

    Sheryl: Just at the airport leaving the Bahamas, next stop Orlando! Thanks for the heads up about Eataly, it is now on my list for NYC. See you soon!

    Leslie: Hope your NYC adventure was wonderful. Have added your suggestions to my list. Will give you a full report when I see you.

    Miles: Hooray! I am glad you guys cooked from the site. Thanks for all of your help with redesigning parts of this blog. I am excited to unveil the changes and I have more ideas to come! Tell Aubin to hold the baby until after the 12th.

    Tracy: Next time I am going to add a couple of “little red devils”. That will make it perfect.

    Matt: I am always so inspired by your home curing tutorials and am always so impressed that you so generously share your knowledge. One of these days I will give home-made guanciale a try.

  9. Andi says:

    Last night we decided to make 2 of your recipes since it finally felt like winter here in sunny Los Angeles. We had a little rain and the temperature dropped to 60. 🙂 A little comfort food sounded perfect. We decided on this Carbonara and the Turkey Meatball soup. Both turned out delicous! Of course since there are only 2 of us, we made way too much food.

    Thank you!

    P.S. I am sad I won’t get to see you in Miami when I head there this winter.

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