We visited our local Italian market (Mazarro’s in St. Petersburg, FL), and came across guanciale. It’s not easy to find in the US, and most people would mistake it for pancetta. However, guanciale has a much more “porky” flavor than bacon or pancetta, and has a surprisingly delicate texture. In Italian, guancia means pillow or cheek. So, guanciale is made from pork cheeks. To make this delicacy, the meat is rubbed with salt, sugar, and spices (mostly black pepper is used, but sometimes you’ll see thyme, fennel, and/or garlic). It is then cured for a minimum of three weeks.
We started with the classic recipe for Pasta Alla Carbonara, but we’re adding a few Serious Foodie twists. Enjoy!
Pasta Alla Carbonara Serious Foodie Recipe
Our first twist is the use of a farro-based pasta from Monograno that we got from the same Italian market. It’s a bit hard to find, but you can easily source it from most Italian markets in major cities (such as Eataly in NYC). The texture was very much like standard wheat-based pasta, but had more flavor, and its better for you. This recipe would work perfectly fine with standard spaghetti.
- 1 pound dry pasta
- 4 oz. guanciale, diced into 1/4 inch pieces (pancetta can be substituted)
- 3 fresh large eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/4 inch julienne pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbs. mascarpone
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Bring about 6 quarts of generously salted water. It will take 8 to 10 minutes to cook, and the pasta should be al dente. Time your pasta cooking with preparing the sauce.
- Add the guanciale and sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes until the meat is crispy and golden and has rendered its fat. Remove the guanciale and hold until later. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat.
- Add the onion, and sauté until tender. Add the garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute – just until the garlic begins to smell. Do not burn the garlic. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl whisk the eggs, about 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; whisk in the cheese until well-combined. At this point, the pasta should be cooking.
- Add about 2-3 tablespoons of the hot pasta water to the onion & garlic pan; add the mascarpone, and whisk until smooth. Drain the pasta, then add to the onion, garlic, mascarpone. Add another tablespoon of the hot pasta water.
- Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. If pasta seems dry, add moreof the reserved cooking water to moisten. Season liberally with black pepper. Add back the crisp guanciale and the parsley, and toss.
- You can add some extra chopped parsley and additional cheese, if desired, when plating.