From America's Test Kitchen Season 2: Pesto, Carbonara, and Salad
Standard carbonara is often a lackluster spaghetti dish; it’s either covered in a leaden sauce or riddled with dry bits of cheese. To add to the problems, if the dish gets to the table a few minutes too late, the sauce congeals and the pasta turns rubbery. We set out to make the sauce silky and smooth. Eggs form the base of the lush, silky sauce, so we used three whole eggs to guarantee superior texture and richness. A combination of Pecorino Romano, with its distinctly sharp flavor, and Parmesan, with its sweet, nutty flavor, provided the most bite and creaminess. Raw garlic balanced the richness of the eggs and cheese.
In place of the traditional guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), we used American bacon, which gave our dish the perfect crunch and a hint of sweetness and smoke. Skipping over the heavy cream—which deadened the flavor of the cheeses—we added white wine to achieve a rich, translucent sauce. Pouring the cheese and egg mixture right over the hot pasta in a warmed serving bowl helped ensure that everyone at the table could enjoy a perfectly coated portion of pasta and sauce.
Serves 4 to 6
Add regular table salt to the pasta cooking water, but use sea salt flakes, if you can find them, to season the dish. We like the full flavor they bring to the carbonara. Note that while either table salt or sea salt can be used when seasoning in step 3, they are not used in equal amounts.