Like most traditional Italian dishes, pasta alla carbonara, quintessentially Roman, utilizes a minimum of simple ingredients to create a hearty and delicious meal. Guanciale provides salt and fat, while Pecorino Romano and egg yolks mixed with pasta water — a prized Italian secret — help create the velvety sauce. To truly gild the lily, consider a raw egg yolk on top of the pasta for extra flavor. Artichokes, a Roman favorite, come to this dish to soak up the flavors of the guanciale while melting into the pasta. The traditional pasta used in trattorias is tonnarelli, but spaghetti or bucatini are perfect substitutes.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1pound spaghetti
- 4ounces guanciale or pancetta
- 2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 12ounces frozen or canned artichoke quarters, defrosted or drained
- 6large egg yolks, plus 4 yolks for an optional garnish
- ¼cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish
Step 1Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente.
Step 2While the pasta cooks, make the sauce: Cut the guanciale into 1/4-inch-thick slabs and then 1-inch-long strips. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large, deep skillet and heat over medium. Add the guanciale, reduce the heat to low and allow the guanciale to render until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove the guanciale from the skillet and reserve. Remove 1 tablespoon of the guanciale drippings to a small bowl and set aside.
Step 3Add the artichokes to the skillet and cook until warmed, stirring carefully so they do not break apart. Stir in the cooked guanciale.
Step 4Add the egg yolks, the cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper to the small bowl with the reserved guanciale drippings and stir until combined.
Step 5Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then, using tongs, transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet, mixing to incorporate with the artichokes and guanciale.
Step 6While whisking, slowly drizzle 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water into the egg mixture until combined.
Step 7Remove the pasta from the heat and add the egg mixture, tossing vigorously to coat. Add additional reserved pasta water incrementally until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Step 8Divide the pasta among bowls and top with additional grated cheese. If desired, place a raw egg yolk on top of each pasta nest. Top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to finish.