Farfalle Carbonara

by Matthew Yglesias

I’ve rarely been interested in the idea of recipe-blogging, because normally I get my recipes from the internet so I don’t see what the point would be of reiterating them. However, I plunged into this farfalline carbonara recipe with such reckless abandon that I was already cooking by the time I realized that I had all the wrong ingredients and was really making a “winging it farfalle carbonara.” The basic carbonara concept (bacon, eggs) is basically foolproof, so you may as well not follow my recipe any more than I followed Gourmet‘s. That said, you’ll need:

— 3 slices of bacon (Gourmet calls for “good-quality bacon” but fuck that, it’s bacon)
— 0.5 pounds farfalle
— 1 medium yellow onion
— 2 eggs
— 0.5 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano (here “good quality” helps) plus some more (it’s good quality, why not use more?)
— white wine
— salt ‘n pepa

Start boiling some water. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Cut each slice of bacon into five smaller slices and put them into a skillet over medium heat. Dice the onion, turn the bacon, and toss the onion bits into the pan with the bacon. At this point if your setup is like mine, your smoke detectors will start going off and you’ll have to deal with that. Whisk the eggs, the cheese, and the salt and pepper together. Hopefully your water’s boiling by now and you can put some salt and the farfalle in the water. Use some wine to deglaze the pan with the bacon and onions and turn the heat as low as it’ll go. When the pasta’s done drain it, then put it back in your original pot, then throw the egg/cheese mixture onto the pasta. Stir the pasta vigorously with one hand, while the hand tosses the bacon/onion/wine/drippings onto into the pot.


People say recipes like this are easy. By which I think they mean fast. I think it’s actually harder to cook fast recipes than slow ones, since it requires more poise and I have very little poise.


7 responses to “Farfalle Carbonara

  1. The trickiest part is timing it so the eggs cook, but don’t get scrambled and dried out. Many “Italian” restaurants in the US punk out and make a cream sauce instead, because that’s a lot more forgiving of bad timing. I would add neither peas nor onions. Bacon is good, pancetta is better, guanciale is best. Cook the meat in some butter and olive oil. It should be cooked but not crispy.

  2. From a frequent visitor and fan.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way but I would like to offer a suggestion.

    Post a photo of the featured recipe.

  3. me2i81, that’s good advice.

    When you use farfalle or farfalline or rotellini or any short, shaped pasta for a carbonara, you screw up more readily than when you use classic spaghetti because the eggs are given more of a chance to clump and less to be distributed over the length of a long pasta strand as you toss, not stir, the pasta. The shape of a pasta and its classic treatments are no accident, and spaghetti alla carbonara is the way to go here.

    Matt, do you have a pepper grinder? Freshly ground pepper is essential here. Along with using sea salt rather than sodium chloride when you cook, using a pepper grinder is the thing you can do to make the biggest difference every day in the tone of your dishes.

    Before you boil water for pasta, salt it (big pinch), and add a small splash of oil. And don’t send all the water down the drain when the pasta is done — add a tiny amount (several Tbsp) of the hot pasta-boiling water back into the pasta as you toss it with the eggs and cheese. This is very important if you don’t want clumps of eggs.

    To be authentic, you need freshly chopped parsley here — a handful.

    Fussy, I know. But if you do these things, you’ll thank me.

  4. This recipe was pretty hilarious, as recipes go. More recipes should be written with intent to amuse.

  5. I, in fact, made carbonara last night and followed Marcella Hazan’s recipe (as I always do). Onion? Feh. About a quarter pound of good bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips, but you cook it in olive oil that you’ve browned some garlic cloves in beforehand (throw out the garlic before you toss in the bacon). Once the bacon’s just started to crisp around the edges, pour in a scant cup of white wine you’d be happy to drink. Turn off the heat. Warm a big mixing bowl in the oven and then bust two eggs into it, throw in at least a cup of grated parmesan and/or parmesan mixed with romano and some chopped fresh parsley. Once the pasta’s done (I favor a thick spaghetti, but I could be talked into any pasta robust enough to keep its heat after draining), drain it and toss it hot in the warmed mixing bowl. Toss it all together while you’re re-warming the bacon and wine, and then pour the bacon wine mixture over it all. Toss more and serve it with glasses of the white wine you cooked with (I’ve often done a pinot grigiot, but last night it was an economy sauvingnon blanc, which really gave it better flavor). It is, as they say, the s**t.

  6. “Bacon is good, pancetta is better, guanciale is best.” -me2i81
    Exactly. Seriously, use guanciale (cured pork jowls, for those who are wondering). You’ll be glad you did. It gives the dish the most gloriously silky texture due to the collagen in the meat. Mmmmmm.

  7. Whaddaya know? I made up a carbonara recipte myself the other night. Mine was made with rotini, and I like to reserve some pasta wated to throw in with the egg and cheese to help the egg along a bit. I also fried some leftover prosciutto I had from this recipe: http://www.whatwereeating.com/recipes/holiday-recipes-stuffed-sweet-potatoes-wrapped-in-prosciutto/ Delish!

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