Having a pasta machine means you make Italian food more often than you normally would. At least in my case it does. The machine came with 8 screens or dies which is all this manufacturer makes. But when a mettalurgist in Italy decided to make an adapter that lets me use Kenwood (one of the largest makers of pasta dies) brass pasta screens in my Phillips pasta maker, a whole new world opened up.
Above is a bucatini pasta die with 00 ground semolina flour. It looked interesting to me because the noodles are hollow. That is what made me purchase the screen anyway. Hollow spaghetti noodles – how very novel. The reason I decided to make Bucatini alla Carbonara is because that is the dish most commonly asociated with that pasta. I love researching the origins and background of a dish before I make it s0 that I have an understanding of the people that ate it and why they chose the ingredients they did. Such research has me craving the food by the time I’ve had my fill of the reading. Then my family gets a short story as they begin eating a meal that I make for the first time, as happened here. All because I thought some pasta die looked interesting on a website. 😉
Ok, so starting with the parsley in the upper left and going clockwise, we have flat leaf parsley, eggs, 00 ground semolina flour, garlic, Telicherry black peppercorns, Pecorino Romano cheese, Parmesano Reggiano cheese, and Pancetta. Not shown is the olive oil we will use.
Now here I’ve chopped up 8 oz of the pancetta, ground my black pepper, grated a mix of 80% romano and 20% parmesan cheese and minced up some flat leaf parsley (about 1/3 cup) .
Into my pasta machine I have put about 600 grams of 80% 00 ground semolina with 20% all purpose flour and 3 whole eggs and enough water to make up the rest of the liquid volume. Here, the machine is kneading it. If you don’t have a pasta maker you can always buy Bucatini pasta online or from a grocer.
These noodles are like long thin macaroni noodles. This is about 1/3 of my noodles processed. The brass die works best when it is hot so I soak it in very hot water for 5 minutes before starting this.
And here I have started to cook my pancetta and parsley in olive oil. The fat rendered from the pancetta gives an extra smooth richness to the sauce that we want. In Italy they would use cured hog jowls instead of pancetta but there is nothing unauthentic about my dish here (except for how I plate it).
My bucatini cooked and drained. Like thick spaghetti noodles with holes on the ends.
Ok, here I have tossed everything together along with one whole beaten egg, 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, my ground black pepper and the grated cheese mix. At the table I provide more grated romano cheese.
And here is the dish plated before adding any condiments on top. I plate it this way so that each diner can toss the egg yolk into their hot pasta at the table and enjoy this creamy sauce that goes so well with the crispy pork. I served this to my family of 5 and there were no leftovers. I must confess when I showed the above to my friends in Italy in our pasta maker group, they wasted no time telling me “That’s NOT Carbonara if the egg is added at the table.” I thought “Here we go again with the ‘Paella’ argument.” I wasn’t going to argue with them because they ARE in Italy and traditionally the yolks are mixed in with the sauce before the table. But if Mario Batali can get away with it then I figured ‘why not’. And the dish doesn’t taste any different having added the yolks later.
As the story goes, this dish was a favorite of coal miners in the region, hence the name “Carbonara”.
And here is the complete recipe:
Bucatini alla Carbonara (serves 5-6 as a main course)
- 1.5 lbs bucatini pasta (boxed or made yourself)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup Pecorino Romano (80%) and Parmesano Reggiano (20%)
- 1/3 cup well chopped flat leaf parsley
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 8 oz pancetta chopped into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 egg per diner plus 1 egg
- 2 Tbs fresh ground black peppercorns
- Cook the pasta according to box directions or boil 6 minutes if home made
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
- Add the pancetta and parsley when the oil is hot
- Cook the pancetta until it starts to crisp up (about 6-8 minutes)
- Add the garlic to the pancetta pot and stir well
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta noodles well.
- Toss the pasta well in the pot with the sauteed pancetta, parsley and garlic medley
- Beat one of the eggs well and mix slowly with the hot pasta water
- Toss the egg/water mix into the noodles well.
- Add the grated cheese and the black pepper to the pasta and mix well.
- With the remaining eggs, separate the yolks from the whites. The whites will not be used.
- Plate each diner’s dish as a nest of pasta and pancetta pieces with a yolk in the middle.
- Serve immediately with extra grated pecorino romano and parmesan cheese at the table.
- Have the diners toss their noodles with the egg yolk