The best carbonara.

Ingredients:

  • 200g of linguine or whatever pasta you prefer
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 40g Parmesan or Pecorino or both
  • 4 thin slices of Guanciale or Panceta or Bacon (50g)
  • 1.5L water
  • 80g of cooking water (see Execution)
  • 6g Salt
  • A generous touch of black pepper

Tools:

  • Flat and wide pot
  • Immersion blender
  • A tall and thin container (usually comes with the immersion blender)
  • Food processor (optional)
  • Knife (optional)
  • Cutting board (optional)
  • Scale
  • Tongs to stir the pasta
  • Absorbing paper
  • A cup
  • A few bowls

Execution:

  • Place the egg yolks and a good amount of black pepper in the immersion blender container
  • If the bacon is not already in strips, thinly slice it
  • Place the bacon to the pot while it’s still cold and bring the heat to medium high
  • Cook the bacon until it gets a nice dark color, remove it from the pot and place it on absorbing paper
  • Wait 30 seconds for the bacon to cool down and then using the blender or your knife turn it into a powder and place in a bowl
  • Remove the bacon fat from the pot and add the water
  • Salt the water and bring it to a boil
  • Add the pasta and cook it slightly less than your prefered doneness
  • Strain the pasta while keeping 80g of the cooking water in a cup
  • Start blending the eggs and gradually add the water while doing so
  • Add the cheese and continue blending
  • Adjust the consistency and taste of the sauce by adding more cheese and water if necessary
  • Move the pasta back to the pot (outside the stove), add the sauce and bacon powder and stir well

Platting:

  • It’s pasta, no need to be fancy

Theory, Tips:

  • Why is this the best carbonara recipe?
    Because it gives you endless flexibility on the taste of the end result while at the same time is impossible to screw up.
  • If I make it for more than 1 person? For 2 people simply use 2 egg yolks, the same amount of bacon and double the pasta. For the sauce, adjust the quantity and consistency by adding more water and cheese.
  • Why use immestion blender in the first place? Carbonara as well as all the other traditional Italian pasta sauces (Cacio e Peppe, Aglio e Olio, Gricia etc.) are based on an emulsion between cooking water and fat which in our case is the egg yolk. Emulsions happen with movement and traditionally the carbonara sauce is made by stirring everything together in a pot but I figured that using an immersion blender yields far better and more consistent results than that.
  • Why do you use so little water? Because we want to maximize the amount of starch in the cooking water which will help our sauce emulsify better.
  • Why do you discard bacon fat? Because egg yolk + fat = mayonnaise when emulsifying vigorously like in our case.
  • Why turn bacon to a powder? That’s optional but personally I always find the texture of bacon or guanciale in the dish unpleasant and end up not eating all of it. Even if we do make it very crispy, it always absorbs some of the sauce and ends up having a weird gummy texture. By turning the meat to a powder, we maintain all of its flavor while avoiding that problem.
  • Why do you use only egg yolks? Because the egg yolk and egg white cook at different temperatures. Techinically you could use the whole egg but there’s a big risk that when you add the pasta water some of the egg white will solidify instantly which is unpleasant.
  • Why add water while blending? Because if you don’t blend when you add it, your egg yolks will turn to scrambled eggs.
  • Sauce consistency: As far as texture goes, you want to make it a bit thinner than you’d thing because it will thicken up slightly when mixed with the pasta.

Acknowledgements:

  • I came up with this technique by myself, and I’m pretty proud of it.