Smoky Tomato Carbonara
Carbonara, a Roman specialty, transforms a few basic ingredients into a rich pasta dish. It’s traditionally made with Parmigiano-Reggiano, eggs, guanciale (cured pork) and black pepper, but this version uses bacon, since it’s widely available and lends a nice smoky note. The creamy sauce is created when raw eggs are tossed with the hot pasta (away from direct heat to avoid curdled eggs). This can be tricky, but the method used here is foolproof: Whisk some hot pasta water into the beaten eggs, then drizzle the tempered egg mixture into the pasta while stirring vigorously for a glossy smooth sauce. Tomatoes are not traditional in carbonara, but they lend a bright tang to the dish.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1pound spaghetti
- 2large eggs plus 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- ½cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving
- 6ounces thick-cut smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch-thick matchsticks
- 2tablespoons tomato paste
- 8ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
Step 1Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.
Step 2Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine eggs and egg yolks, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and whisk well.
Step 3Heat a large skillet over medium. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons bacon grease (reserve any extra for another use). Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until sizzling and starting to brown, about 1 minute. Add cherry tomatoes and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until softened and juices start to release, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
Step 4Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Return pasta to pot (off the heat) and add the bacon-tomato mixture. (If necessary, use 2 tablespoons of pasta water to stir up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.)
Step 5While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water into the beaten egg mixture until well blended. Slowly drizzle the tempered egg mixture into the pasta, tossing the pasta constantly and vigorously, until well incorporated and saucy. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle in more pasta water if a thinner consistency is desired.
Step 6Serve in bowls with more cheese and black pepper.