Given the choice between alfredo and carbonara, I’ll choose the latter every time. It packs a far more impressive flavor punch, and is the ultimate comfort food (especially helpful when weaning oneself from a hearty Easter meal of gratinéed potatoes, festive onions, spiral ham, and other holiday delights).
Pasta (brown rice spaghetti), bacon (pancetta), cream (half and half, to lighten things a bit), egg yolks (seriously, you cannot taste them, they just make the sauce wonderfully velvety), Parm (Pecorio Romano is traditional, but is rarely in my fridge), etc. — all I can say is yes, please!
Spaghetti alla carbonara
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
- 12 ounces Brown Rice Spaghetti¹
- 4 ounces Pancetta
- 4 ounces (3/4 cup, about 1 small) Yellow Onion, very finely chopped
- 4 ounces Dry Vermouth
- 12 ounces Half and Half
- 4 ounces (1 cup) Parmesan, finely grated (plus more for serving)
- 3 large Egg Yolks² (reserve Egg Whites for another use)
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- Pinch Ground Nutmeg (optional)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Fill a large pot with water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. In a 2 cup (or larger) measuring cup or bowl, whisk together half and half through nutmeg (if using); set aside.
While the water heats up, set a 4 quart sauté pan over medium heat. Once pan is hot, cook the pancetta until several tablespoons of the fat renders out, making sure it doesn’t get crispy—about 2 minutes. Stir in onions; cook until softened, but not browned—about 5 minutes. Deglaze pan with vermouth; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer onion mixture until the vermouth is nearly evaporated—about 5 minutes.
Once the vermouth is mostly evaporated, the water should be at a steady boil. At this point, stir a few tablespoons of salt into the water and drop in the pasta; cook until al dente—about 9 minutes. Drain and rinse in a colander; set aside.
While the pasta cooks, whisk the half and half mixture into the onion and reduced vermouth mixture. Continue cooking, stirring or whisking often, until thickened and hot (just about when the pasta is finished cooking). If the mixture begins to bubble, remove from the heat. Stir in cooked, still warm pasta; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
¹ I use Trader Joe’s organic brown rice spaghetti, it’s only $2 for a pound. The amount of pasta listed makes for an extra-creamy and indulgent dish, but you may feel free to use the whole pound if you want to stretch the meal a little further and maybe show your arteries some love — either way, it’s delicious!
¹ Please note that consuming raw or undercooked eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.