Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
There’s a reason certain dishes never go out of style. This classic Italian pasta is so rich and flavorful, it’s worth the occasional indulgence–and not just when you’re dining out. It’s a simple dish I turn to for comfort and satisfaction on a chilly night. The egg yolks and cream coat the pasta with silky richness, while pancetta adds texture and salty flavor. Seek out good-quality dried pasta for this dish. I like pancetta best here, but you can also use bacon, keeping in mind that it will give the dish a smoky flavor, as bacon is generally smoked while pancetta is not. For best flavor, grate the cheese from a block of good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano. Alternatively, purchase grated cheese in a tub from a store that grates good cheese in-house. What to drink: A full-bodied chardonnay or viognier without strong tropical fruit flavors pairs well with this rich dish. A pinot noir or syrah will also work.
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe CourseMain Course
Dietary ConsiderationPeanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free
Taste and TextureCheesy, Creamy, Rich, Savory, Smoky, Umami
Type of DishDry Pasta, Pasta
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 8 ounces pancetta or good-quality bacon, cut into ¼-inch squares
- Up to 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- 2 large egg yolks
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until it is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1 cup cold water during the last minute to slow the cooking.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over high heat. If you are using bacon, you probably will not need the olive oil. If you are using pancetta, which is leaner, you may want to start it in a little olive oil until it begins to render its own fat. Cook the pancetta, stirring, until it lightly browns. Reduce the heat to low.
Whisk together the egg yolks and cream in a small bowl.
When the pasta is ready, drain (do not rinse) and transfer it to a large pasta bowl. Pour the hot pancetta over the pasta, then pour the egg and cream mixture over. Toss the pasta with the sauce using two large forks, then add the parsley, half of the cheese, and a few grindings of pepper. Continue to toss vigorously to coat the pasta and allow it to absorb the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and serve immediately.
Some ideas to get you thinking about adding your own twist to this classic:
For an elegant and aromatic feast, drizzle with white truffle oil as you toss.
Mince 2 cloves garlic and add with a generous shake of red chile flakes as you cook the pancetta.
Sauté 1 cup sliced wild mushrooms with the pancetta to add earthiness.
Toss in a handful each of cherry tomatoes and fresh blanched English peas or good-quality thawed frozen ones at the end, along with some torn fresh basil leaves.
2008 Joey Altman