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5 Ingredient Friday: Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta alla carbonara is a rich, creamy Roman dish that is exceptional in its simplicity. Every step in the process has a purpose and every ingredient is used efficiently – even the pasta water! Traditional recipes like this one only require a handful of ingredients, and it comes together in exactly as much time as it takes to cook pasta. (Depending on your beliefs about the perfect texture of prepared pasta, that should be in the area of 8-12 minutes).

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The recipe I prepared for this installment of 5-ingredient Friday is almost traditional, except that I used pancetta instead of guanciale — aka pork cheek — largely because of accessibility. If you can get the real thing, by all means, use it instead! Bacon or pancetta are both acceptable substitutions that your local store is more likely to have in stock.

Mise en Place for Pasta alla Carbonara

Note: The eggs in this recipe are very lightly cooked and thickened by the residual heat from the hot pasta, hot pasta water, hot oil, and hot pancetta. Timing is somewhat important here, because you want everything to still be quite warm when it comes time to toss it all together.

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*For the sticklers counting ingredients: “Pantry essentials” such as salt, pepper, water, and olive oil are not being included in the overall ingredient count for the purpose of flexibility! Hope that doesn’t irritate too many of you folks out there.

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