Eating carbonara pasta certainly draws memories to those who visited Italy at least once in their lives. Whether they tasted the fresh northern pasta consisting of flour and eggs or southern “dry” pasta made of wheat flour and water, carbonara sauce claims a large space in their hearts and charms their tastebuds. Maybe it is the atmosphere of local trattorias (usually family-owned neighborhood restaurants), homemade ingredients, family recipes, or a combination of all these factors that make pasta carbonara taste in Italy like nowhere else on the planet.
Important Notes Before Cooking
There’s only one critical and delicate concern about pasta carbonara — achieving that creamy sauce without scrambling its main hero, the egg. Reading the previous sentence you probably scratch your head, how it is even possible to get the creamy consistency if you
don’t want to eat pasta covered in a raw egg? Transferring cooked pasta into a hot sautè pan with crispy cured pork, fat, and garlic keeps the temperature of the pasta high, thus the eggs cook on the pasta’s hot surface.
The Key Ingredient To Creaminess
Sounds strange, however, there’s a science behind it — the most taste-influential ingredient is the pasta water. As you cook the pasta, the wheat starch releases to the surrounding hot water. Starch molecules work hand in hand with the saturated fats of bacon playing a tremendous role in the sauce’s capability to bond with the pasta. According to James Kenji López-Alt, starchy water possesses a superpower of thickening the sauce and making it creamier, which happens on a molecular basis. How exactly it happens is a matter of organic chemistry, and we won’t annoy you with that; however, if you belong to food and drink nerds as we do, we recommend buying James Kenji López-Alt’s book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.
To summarize, the starchier the water, the better for the sauce, therefore cook the pasta in less water for a higher concentration of starch in it. No worries, if you give the linguine a stir with a wooden spoon every now and then (but mostly after placing them into the boiling water), it won’t get sticky.
- Sauté pan
- Medium-size pot suitable for cooking linguine
- Medium-small-size bowl
- 5 slices of bacon, cut to pieces
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 16 oz linguine pasta (one packaging)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- salt to taste
- In a bowl, properly whisk two eggs, and mix in the parmesan cheese. Cut five slices of bacon into pieces and set aside.
- To a medium-size pot, add water, two tablespoons of salt, and bring to boil. When the water starts to boil, add linguine and cook until al dente. Save about ⅓ to ½ cup of starchy pasta water.
- Heat the sauté pan to medium-high temperature. Sauté cut bacon for about five minutes, add garlic, and continue for a minute or two until the bacon is crispy.
- Lower the temperature of the pan. Add cooked linguine and coat the pasta with pork fat. Pull down the pan from the stove and pour the eggs & cheese mixture over the pasta, covering them entirely. Be careful to not scramble the eggs! Use pasta water to reduce the thickness of the sauce.
- Ground fresh black pepper over the linguine and enjoy the meal!