Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pasta Carbonara with Pancetta

Carbonara sauces are rich, silky, and so delicious. Here, pancetta and mild shallots complement the sauce without getting in the way of its own flavor and the velvety texture of butter and fresh egg yolks.

Note: If you’re leery of consuming raw eggs, you can substitute pasteurized yolk from the market. The taste and texture may vary a bit, but go with what suits you best. If you do include raw yolk, choose eggs from locally raised chickens that are well kept and drug free—better for the animals, better for you.

I blended a little milk into the yolks simply to thin them and to help retain a silky texture when they're added to the hot pasta and other ingredients. It’s also important to reserve a cup of pasta water and add it to the sauce at various stages to retain a creamy texture start to finish.

Serves 4

  • 8 oz vermicelli (or angel hair pasta)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp low-fat or skim milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 2 large shallots, sliced into thin rings
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
  • chopped fresh herbs (such as oregano, basil, and sage) for garnish
Chopped Pancetta
Carbonara Ingredients
  1. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1-1/2 cups of the pasta water.
  2. Beat the yolks and milk in a small bowl until well blended.
  3. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Add the pancetta and shallots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pancetta just begins to crisp, 8-9 minutes.
Pancetta and Shallots
Cooked Pancetta and Shallots
  1. Add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet and stir to combine.  
  2. Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the butter, stirring constantly until blended and a glossy sauce forms. Stir in 1/2 cup more pasta water.
  3. Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. Add the cheese and toss to combine.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the egg yolk mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of pasta water. Stir gently to combine all the ingredients.
Blend the Butter Slowly 
Pasta Added 
Egg Mixture and Remaining Water Stirred In
Divide the pasta and sauce among 4 bowls and garnish with chopped herbs. Serve right away.

Pasta Carbonara with Pancetta

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