Cancel your weekend restaurant dinner plans — unless you’re heading straight to the source — and follow this recipe for simple yet decadent spaghetti carbonara, courtesy of Lynette Hawkins of Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino. It’s that good, we’re not yolking around.
3 ½ oz. spaghetti
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 whole garlic clove, crushed*
¼ cup guanciale cut into lardons**
1 whole egg
2 heaping Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano
½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 ounce hot salted pasta water
* Garlic is an optional and untraditional ingredient.
**Pancetta can be substituted for guanciale, but the flavor won’t be as luscious and porky.
METHOD Begin cooking the spaghetti in well-salted boiling water (at least 1 heaping tablespoon of kosher salt per gallon of boiling water).
Put the garlic and guanciale in a skillet with the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté until the garlic is golden and the guanciale has rendered its fat and is beginning to get crispy. Remove the garlic from the pan and discard, and turn off the heat. The guanciale will continue to cook in the hot pan. You want the guanciale crispy on the outside but still succulent on the inside.
In a small bowl, beat the egg with the cheese and black pepper.
Just before the pasta is ready, mix in one ounce of its cooking water to the beaten egg mixture. When the spaghetti is “al dente,” or just about done to your taste, use tongs to transfer the pasta from its cooking water to the pan with the guanciale. Set over medium-low heat. As soon as the guanciale and oil is hot, turn off the heat. Quickly drizzle the egg mixture on top of the pasta and immediately begin stirring and tossing vigorously to make a creamy sauce with the cheesy-egg striations coating the pasta without lumps of scrambled eggs. Serves 1 or 2.
Note: Salt is not needed in the sauce because the guanciale and Pecorino Romano are quite salty.