Classic Carbonara with Crispy Bacon & Fresh Chives
Updated: Dec 5, 2021
Bacon is exactly the right thing to happen to me at precisely the wrong time. If ever I am presented with a crispy morsel - or more realistically a floppy, but still completely acceptable piece of processed pork - I need to scrap any hopes of a good day. Bacon was sent to test mortal beings and perhaps we have failed colossally. However, failure does one of two things: teaches us, and satisfies us. Each time I eat bacon, approximately 20 minutes later, I learn why I shouldn't. Furthermore, one should never make light of addiction; but the satisfaction in failing to say no, however brief, is a beautiful high I will chase until my heart gives out.
This sentiment translates (mostly) to a bowl of carbonara - yet I am slightly more ready to reject when is necessary, as it requires much more commitment than a few pieces of bacon. Standing up right becomes more than a chore after half a bowl of the good stuff. The problem, you see, is that there's usually bacon, or fancy bacon, or really fatty fancy bacon, involved in the making of a carbonara. And, as we've learnt, I can't say no to bacon.
Work fast with your egg mixture and make sure the pan is off the heat so you avoid scrambling the eggs.
Use good quality parmesan (believe me, it will make a world of difference).
Because the dish doesn't have much to hide behind, you want to make sure that pasta water is heavily salted and perfectly al dente, so keep a close eye on it.
150g of streaky bacon or guanciale, sliced into small pieces
320g of spaghetti
3 egg yolks
1 cup of finely grated parmesan, plus more for serving
Cracked black pepper
1 cup of pasta water
1/2 cup of finely chopped chives
Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk in a separate bowl. Whisk your parmesan into the egg mixture, and add a large crack of black pepper. Set this aside until ready to use.
Boil a pot of salted water. Add your pasta to the pot and cook until al dente. Make sure to save at least a cup of starchy pasta water.
Whilst your pasta is cooking, heat a pan over a medium-high heat and add 3/4 of your bacon pieces (if using guanciale, add it all). Cook until the fat has rendered out and the bacon or guanciale is cooked.
Remove your bacon/guanciale, leaving the fat in the pan.
Add your pasta into the pan with the fat with 1/4 cup of pasta water and toss until the pasta is coated. Stir most of your guanciale (or all of your cooked bacon) back in.
Remove the pan from the heat and, working quickly, pour your egg and cheese mixture into the pan. Agitate and move the pasta around quickly so as to coat the pasta and not cook the eggs.
Slowly add in a bit of pasta water until you reach your desired sauce thickness.
In a small pot or separate pan, cook the rest of your bacon until nice and crispy (I'd advise you do this at the same time as the pasta, so that it's ready for the carbonara) - I like mine carcinogenic... but you don't have to take it that far.
Serve the carbonara with a fresh grating of parmesan, a sprinkle of chives, and some of the crispy bacon (or the rest of your guanciale).