I have been wanting to make this bucatini alla carbonara for a very long time and have finally overcame my intimidation and just did it.
If someone tells me, “be careful making the caramel sauce and don’t let it burn”, then I am sure to burn it. In the case of this bucatini alla carbonara it was, “be careful and don’t let the eggs get too hot or they will scramble”. The first time I made this dish I was careful and, hooray, it was perfect! It was so awesome.
I have several Italian cookbooks and some of them list spaghetti as the pasta while others list the bucatini. Also, there is a mix between them with the addition of cream and garlic. The recipe book that I like best is The Il Fornaio Pasta Book which is full of pasta recipes from Italy. It is from the restaurant owner of Il Caminetto in Whistler, BC that I mentioned in the post of Grilled Rack of Lamb with Mint Pesto. I adapted the recipe in his book to include the garlic and I used bacon in place of the pancetta. The result is this amazing dish of bucatini alla carbonara. It is so creamy and delicious.
What, exactly, is bucatini alla carbonara? Bucatini alla carbonara is a simple Italian dish that originated in Rome, Italy. It consists of perfectly cooked hollow string pasta that is tossed together with a mixture of eggs, cheese, with crisp cooked pancetta or bacon mixed with it. Finally, as a finishing touch, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is grated on top. The heat of the pasta and other ingredients will lightly cook the raw eggs.
If you are concerned that the eggs may not be cooked enough to be safe, you could use pasteurized eggs in either liquid form or in the shell. I choose to use pasteurized eggs in the shell. I buy my pasteurized eggs at Albertsons and the name says it all, Safe Eggs. Egg pasteurization eliminates the risk of Salmonella bacteria and viruses like Avian influenza. If you are interested, Nicole Weston, over at Baking Bites gives instructions on how to pasteurize eggs right in your own kitchen. Right in your own kitchen! Doesn’t that sound interesting? I have not tried her plan though as I just buy them from the grocery store.
There is an old Italian proverb that says, “When the stomach is full the heart is happy”, and this bucatini alla carbonara will do both. I would also be happy to have a nice glass of Zinfandel wine with this amazing meal.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino
- 5 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 pound dry bucatini
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Preheat the oven to 200° F
- Place a large ovenproof serving bowl or casserole into the oven to heat.
- Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook just until it is soft and fragrant, do not let it brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Whisk together the whole eggs and egg yolks in a medium bowl. Add the grated pecorino, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Set aside.
- Bring 5 quarts of water and the 5 teaspoons of salt to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions or until al dente. Transfer the pasta to a colander and drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
- Transfer the cooked pasta to the heated serving bowl and add the reserved bacon or pancetta, lifting and tossing the bucatini with two forks. Then, working quickly, add the eggs and cheese, continuing to lift and toss to coat the strands thoroughly. If the dish seems too dry add a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking water. Sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of grated cheese and serve immediately.