There’s only one way to make Pasta Carbonara – with raw eggs, hard cheese and bacon.
This, however, doesn’t mean that you’re actually eating raw eggs. The eggs will cook when you toss it with the hot pasta and some cheese, just enough for them to thicken and turn into a rich and creamy sauce. I wouldn’t recommend feeding this to a toddler. But if you’re adding cream to your sauce, I also do not recommend naming that dish “Carbonara” as you may risk agitating the Romans.
Traditionally, Guanciale or Pancetta is used as the meat component of this dish. But I do think smoked duck bacon makes for a nice heady substitute for when you can’t get your hands on any (or if you’re just not into eating pork).
This recipe should take you 30 minutes to put together from start to finish. It sounds like a breeze, but you’ll be cooking the pasta, rendering the fat and making the sauce so make sure you’re keeping an eye on every moving part. And as always, mise en place for efficiency.
Smoked Duck Carbonara (serves 2)
About 225 g of spaghetti or linguine
About 100 g smoked duck bacon, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
1 large egg and 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano (you can also use Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan), plus more for serving
Ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Cook pasta until al dente (this should take you roughly 8 minutes).
2. While pasta is cooking, heat a pan over medium-high heat. Sauté duck bacon until the fat begins to render (if you’ve had the misfortune of getting a pack of duck bacon that isn’t quite fatty, feel free to add a dash of olive oil to help it render) then add garlic and continue to sauté for 2 minutes or until bacon starts to brown and garlic has softened. Remove from heat.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and cheese. Season generously with black pepper.
4. Drain pasta and set aside about 1 cup of pasta water. Add drained pasta to the duck bacon/garlic mixture and mix it around with tongs. Add cheese/egg mixture, stirring to coat. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water for creaminess, if needed.
5. Serve immediately, garnished with extra cheese and a few turns of pepper.
Would you try this recipe? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you. <3