How to Cook a Carbonara Pasta

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Carbonara pasta has a few key ingredients that are required during its preparation. Cook a Carbonara pasta with help from an executive chef in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Italian Cooking
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Camille from, and today I'm going to show you how to make Pasta Carbonara. We're going to use pancetta as well as both Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses and two egg yolks for one portion of Carbonara. So, I already have my linguine going in the pot right here because the Carbonara sauce is very quick. So by the time we are ready for the pasta, we want the sauce to be ready. So we start the pasta first, give them a stir, make sure he's going and he is still good and stiff, not ready at all. So, turn this on. I'm going to do a little bit of olive oil. We're not going to need too much because the pancetta has the fat it's going to render out. We're going to add just a little pancetta here, maybe two ounces and I've just cut it into slices from the rings that it was sliced in before and we're just going to let it cook at a relatively low heat, maybe a medium low heat until it is crispy all the way through. So pancetta is Italian bacon. It's not smoked which is what American is smoked, but it is still made from the belly of a pig. So, we're just going to let that cook and it's been sliced fairly thinly so I'm going to have to keep my eye on it to make sure that it's cooking evenly so that you don't get some chewy gnarly fatty pieces and some burnt pieces. We want them all to be crispy and delicious and meaty and salty and porky and yummy. So, I'm going to start by doing that. Okay, already ready to go behind me I have Pecorino cheese which is a sheep's milk cheese. It's brighter than the Parmesan cheese. It's aged less so the Pecorino is going to be a little brighter saltier cheese and the Parmigiano is going to be a deeper nuttier, cow's milk cheese. We're going to use both of those in here. So the other thing to know about Carbonara is that classically there is no cream in it. It's only eggs, so bacon and eggs on pasta, I mean, nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. So the way to get the creamy consistency without using cream is to essentially thicken the pasta water that we're going to add to the pan with the egg yolk. So, when the pancetta is ready we're going to put a little bit of the pasta water which has a little bit of starchiness in it already so it has already the viscosity sort of a thickness to it, sort of a salt your mouth feel, a little bit of body to it and that's going to deglaze the pan. So it's going to pull up all the fond which is all this delicious stuff that's sticking to the bottom of the pan right now from the pancetta and it's going to pull up all of that deliciousness and it's going to mix into the water. Then we're going to season the water, sort of flavor the water with the Parmesan and the Pecorino which are going to melt in very quickly and then we are simply going to add the pasta on top of it and thicken all of that with the egg yolks. So, in just a moment we can see that this is almost ready to go. The good thing about this is that when we add the pasta water all of this is going to stop cooking. So we can wait until our pasta is ready. So I'm just going to, I mean we've got like one minute left on this thing, I'm going to get ready. Here comes my ladle, well alright, just one second, here it goes, wait for it. It's got to be just right. You don't want it chewy. You don't want it burnt, you just want nice toastiness and it's ready. So I'm just going to reach over here and get a nice full scoop because we have to have something for the eggs to thicken, so, and I think it's making a little bit of a mess, but I think I'm going to go just a little tiny touch more. Now there's maybe five ounces, I have a four ounce ladle here so maybe five ounces and while I check my pasta I'm just going to turn this down because I don't want it to produce too much because I want to keep that nice liquid in there. So, let me check my pasta here, find out how close we are. It doesn't take me much to know. It's got another minute, so the pasta water also, when you're cooking pasta in general, you want an abundance of water so that it's not sticking to the bottom. It's not sticking to each other. They can float freely about and you want it to be salted, well Sicilians will tell you salted like the sea, they have a really salty sea. I think salted like soup. So you know, you want it to be flavorful. You don't want it to be overly salty but you want to be able to taste it. So like you would salt a soup, that's how much salt you should put in the pasta water. That way the flavor of the pasta itself will be there in the end sauce. I mean it's very hard to get the flavor of the pasta without having the water properly salted before the pasta goes in. Okay so now that the pasta is ready I'm going to go ahead and add it to my pancetta. Now the cheeses that I've grated I've used a microplane on so they're very very fine. So if I was to put them straight into that liquid without a buffer, without this pasta they would, they would kind of stick to the bottom and that's not really what I want. So I was just going to add it to the pasta like this and then, and then give it a mix. So we want to also note that there is a nice juiciness, very liquidy in there and that's good because that's what the egg yolks are going to thicken. So now I have it on medium low heat or so and I'm going to add the yolks. Now you have to be a little bit careful about this because you don't want them to curdle of course. You want them to thicken that water. So give them a couple good tosses and smooth them out, take it off of the heat which we've done here and that's all it takes. It's so fast that it just thickens like that into a sauce. You can see that nice sauce we have right there and I'm just going to put it in a bowl so we can see it a little bit better. The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits because the eggs are still coagulating a little bit. So you want to make it a little bit looser than you think you want it in the end. So now I'm just going to sprinkle a little tiny bit more cheese on the top for a little garnish and a good big fat crack of black pepper to finish it off. I hope you enjoyed my Pasta Carbonara recipe. I'm Camille Parker from Buon appetito.


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