This has become one of my favorite pasta recipes – I first had this when Simona Goi made it for a gathering of the University of Minnesota InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Minneapolis. Since then I have tried a number of different folks’ versions of this, but was especially pleased to have eaten it in Rome, where the recipe originated. Most recipes are quite similar in that they contain eggs, cheese, and some kind of cured meat (often here in the USA, bacon; elsewhere, pancetta or guanciale). The differences tend to be whether or not the recipes include wine, cream, peas, auxiliary cheeses, or other items. I did find that none of the restaurants or Italians I spoke to in Italy ever used cream in their versions of this dish, whereas most Americans do – I do not use it in my recipe.
- ½ to ¾ lb of pancetta, guanciale, or excellent quality sliced bacon, cut into ¼” x ¼” pieces (not cubed, per se)
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- 3-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- egg whites from 4 fresh large eggs
- 1-2 fresh whole eggs
- ¾ cup of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 1 1/2 lb of thick spaghetti
- salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1-2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
Approximately 20 minutes before the rest of the prep, set eggs out on the counter to bring to room temperature and set 5-7 quarts of salted water to boil. Preheat the oven to ca. 160º. Grate the cheese into a bowl and set aside. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add spaghetti and stir. (you now have about 11-12 minutes to finish the rest of the prep, which works out about right) Cut the pancetta or bacon into ¼” strips and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Mash the garlic cloves with a knife and add to the heated oil. When they are lightly browned, remove them and discard. Add the pancetta/bacon into the pan and cook until slightly crispy. Add the wine to the pan and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat, and set pan aside. Add a large shallow bowl into the oven to warm. Separate the whites out from 4 of the eggs into a bowl, and then add the entire contents of 1-2 eggs, and beat until mixed. Set this aside.
Remove bowl from oven and set on a potholder. Reheat the pancetta-wine-oil mixture to bubbling just as the pasta finishes cooking to al dente. Drain pasta, and dump into warmed bowl. Slowly add the egg mixture into the pasta, tossing constantly, until well-mixed. Add the bacon-wine-oil mixture, constantly tossing; grind 5-6 turns of fresh black pepper into the mix and toss. Add the cheese and toss. Taste, correct for salt - Garnish with fresh parsley, and serve immediately.
- Some cooks like to reserve a bit of hot pasta water to help with adding in the eggs – if you wish to use complete eggs instead of the reduced egg yolk proportions listed above, I find this to be an excellent thing. - Some recipes call for mixing the uncooked eggs, pepper, and grated cheese together as part of the prep. I have found that this produces pepper and cheese clumps on occasion, so I no longer do this. - Some cooks also use a large sauté pan to finish the dish on the stove rather than turning the mixture into a warmed bowl to mix and toss. (Most of us do not have a sauté pan large enough to do this, I’m afraid!) I find that the hot pasta has enough temperature to cook the eggs on its own (ca. 208º or so right out of the pot), and sometimes when adding the eggs to the hot sauté pan you occasionally end up with large chunks of scrambled eggs instead of the velvety sauce that’s created by the wet pasta-egg mixture.