Today is Rome’s 2,769th birthday and I’m thinking about guanciale, that snowy fat streaked lean red meat from the jowls of the pig (the word “guancia” means cheek in Italian). Guanciale is an iconic ingredient in one of Rome’s most traditional and popular dishes, spaghetti alla carbonara. This tasty bit of face bacon is essential to the flavor of an authentic Roman carbonara as is freshly grated Pecorino Romano. This is not an Italian version of a Vermont maple glazed bacon and eggs but a dish that when expertly crafted (as they do in Rome) is extraordinarily delicious. The hot pasta is combined with the other ingredients then quickly mixed into the pasta making a creamy sauce that must be classically prepared to be truly appreciated.
Here are the ingredients and technique for 4 servings of Roman-style spaghetti alla carbonara.
8 ounces guanciale, diced
1 pound spaghetti
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
In a large pan, fry the guanciale over medium-high heat until rendered and crisp, about 10 minutes.Beat eggs and pecorino together in a small bowl with a fork and set aside. Cook the spaghetti to al dente, then drain, return to pot, toss with guanciale and a portion of the rendered fat over low heat and immediately transfer to shallow bowls. Pour egg/cheese mixture over each of the four bowls, add black pepper to taste and quickly mix with a fork to slightly cook the eggs with the hot pasta. The result should be creamy, not dry. Serve immediately.