In case we weren't already sick of pasta dishes here at the commissary lately, I opted to pull one more out of the recent Roman food issue of Saveur before tossing it on the pile in the cookbook cabinet: spaghetti carbonara. This dish is arguably my favorite pasta prep, one that I enjoy sparingly (like once every 2 years) due to its artery-killing trilogy of bacon, eggs, and cheese. This recipe, however, looked much too simple not to attempt, so attempt I did. The only tricky part was deciding what to do with the pancetta grease after frying up the pancetta. Usually, as a small concession to cardiac sanity, one drains off the rendered bacon fat before using the meat in most recipes, but this time, it seemed a little unclear. I chose epicurial valor over healthy discretion - into the pasta went the pork grease (which I later determined was actually the correct thing to do, although my gp might argue otherwise). The finished pasta was just a tiny bit blander than the version I've had at finer trattorias, but Mrs. Hackknife noted that adding more grated Parmesan sparked it up a notch higher towards sublimity.
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale or pancetta (cut into 1/2" pieces)
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 3/4 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg plus 3 yolks
1 lb. spaghetti
1. Heat oil in a 10" skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale/pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 more minutes. Transfer mixture (yes, including the grease) to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Stir in 1 1/2 c. of Parmesan and egg/yolks. Stir well to combine and set aside.
2. Bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Reserve 3/4 c. of pasta water; drain pasta and transfer to guanciale/pancetta mixture. Toss, adding pasta water gradually to make a creamy sauce. Season w/salt and pepper, serve w/remaining Parmesan.