I know what you’re thinking. Ribbons of fresh pasta piled high on your plate, embraced by a silky cream sauce with a surprisingly bright citrus note. A forkful of perfectly al dente noodle and a couple of generous chunks of salty bacon stabbed through the tines. You slurp the last strand of pasta into your mouth, licking away the yolky cream left on your lips. Maybe you’ve made your carbonara maritime-style, with giant chunks of steamed lobster and spring peas. Maybe tossed with sauteed slices of local sausage and caramelized onion.
Have I jump-started your imagination? Carbonara, while awesome on its’ own, can be the base for so many variations on a theme. It’s much easier to make from scratch than you’d think: no pre-packaged cream sauce is needed here.
Also, as I learned during my cooking class in Mexico, you can make this dish without cream, and with the whole egg instead of just the yolk. The rest of the process is the same. AND! And it’s super-great with homemade pasta too. Give it a try!
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 1/2 oz. grated Parmesan
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- (any other ingredients you'd like to throw in! Classic carbonara has bacon in it, so you can start there. You'll never go wrong with bacon!)
- Start a pot of water boiling on high heat for the pasta. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolks, cream, cheese and lemon zest. Once the pasta is cooked, drain off most of the water and return the pasta to the pot (just a few tablespoons of the boiling water should remain). Stirring constantly, slowly add the egg mixture into the pasta pot (at this point, the pot is OFF the stove). You need to do this step slowly while stirring because the heat from the pasta can cook your eggs too quickly, leaving you with a pile of scrambled eggs with pasta in it. But don't worry - if you take your time and stir it lovingly, the pasta will cook the egg mixture just enough to create a beautiful, creamy sauce.
- Serve with a generous crackling of ground black pepper (the reason they call it carbonara is because of the black pepper...carbon...black....get it?)