Carbonara is one of the simplest Italian pasta dishes to cook, and for that reason it’s also one of the most complex. Making mediocre carbonara is easy; making great carbonara takes careful attention to detail and the ability to maintain the delicate balance between the few ingredients.
Pancetta (or if you can find it guanciale) – and in this case, shrimp – add extra flavor to the dish, and can mask a less than stellar carbonara, but the sauce itself is what makes or breaks the dish.
The key ingredients in carbonara sauce are eggs, parmesan cheese, and pepper (don’t you dare add cream – that would be blasphemy!). It’s all about knowing how much to add, and equally important, when to add them – so follow this recipe carefully.
This dish may not seem like much, but when it’s perfectly executed the result is a thing of beauty. In fact, people from all over the world travel to one small Italian town to sample the world’s best carbonara.
*Recipe and photo via Thanksgiving.com
- 8 rounds pancetta, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 ounces fettuccine
- 1 pound large shrimp, raw, thawed, peeled, tails and veins removed
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 In large skillet over medium heat, cook pancetta 3 minutes. Then add garlic and cook until pancetta is crispy, 2 to 3 minutes more.
- 2 Transfer to small bowl. Drain and discard about half of fat from skillet.
- 3 In large stockpot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water, and return fettuccine to pot.
- 4 Add shrimp to skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Add basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Continue to cook, tossing shrimp over until cooked through and shrimp turns pink.
- 5 Reduce heat to low and return pancetta/garlic mixture to skillet. Then add cooked pasta and toss until well combined.
- 6 In small bowl, beat together eggs, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Then pour egg mixture over pasta and toss until coated.
- 7 Add a couple tablespoons pasta water until creamy. (Add more pasta water by tablespoons as necessary.)
- 8 Garnish with extra Parmesan and parsley and serve immediately.