Pasta carbonara is one of my all-time favorite pastas – because it’s so easy to make, yet so full of flavor. Basically, hot, just-cooked pasta is tossed with eggs, cheese, and crisped pancetta, making a flavorful, creamy-cheesy sauce. Often, the dish includes peas, but this cold weather version substitutes wintery broccolini.
Nine times out of ten, when cooking pasta, I’d say to make the water well salted, 1 tablespoon of coarse kosher salt per quart. That’s pretty salty, but it really does take that much salt to get enough into the pasta to thoroughly season it. In this dish, though, there’s already a good amount of salt in the pancetta and cheeses. So season the pasta water only half as much.
- One 4-ounce piece of pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (you should have about 1 cup) (see note below)
- 12 ounces fettuccine, or other favorite pasta
- 10 ounces broccolini (about 1 medium bunch), cut into 3/4-inch pieces (you should have about 3 1/2 cups)
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (3 to 4 ounces), plus more for serving
- 1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese (1 1/2 to 2 ounces), plus more for serving
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press or minced
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
In large pot of boiling, mildly salted water (1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt per quart), cook the fettuccine according to package directions. Stir in the broccolini 3 minutes before the pasta is al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, add the eggs, cheeses, garlic, and pepper to the bowl with the pancetta, whisking to combine.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta-cooking water, then drain. Immediately add the pasta and half of the reserved cooking water to the egg mixture, tossing to combine. Taste and add more pepper and/or cooking water if you like. Serve hot, passing additional cheese at the table.
NOTE Pancetta is an Italian bacon that comes shaped into a sliceable, sausage-like roll. Because it’s not smoked, it has a slightly different flavor than American bacon. Pancetta is available at the deli counter of most supermarkets, but if you can’t find it, substitute thick sliced bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips. Besides using it in this recipe, you can use pancetta in almost any other dish that calls for bacon-