Pasta Carbonara may be named for the charcoal makers of Umbria, but no one really knows. Made with pancetta, which is salt-cured pork belly (similar to bacon, but not smoked), and served up liberally with cheese and black pepper, this sauce was hugely popular with American GIs in Italy after World War II. It’s delicious as a basic recipe, but you can also doll it up with fresh peas, asparagus tips, or sautéed baby artichokes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces pancetta, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 4 large egg yolks
- ⅔ cup heavy (whipping) cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 pound dried penne
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until it is crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to paper towels to drain.
- While the pancetta is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
- Beat the egg yolks and cream together in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Whisk in ½ cup of the cheese.
- Add the penne to the boiling water and cook until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer it to a colander to drain thoroughly, then return it at once to the pot. Add the pancetta and the egg mixture and toss to combine well. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. Stir in the remaining ½ cup cheese and serve immediately.