To try it out I decided to make my favorite pancetta or guanciale dish, and possibly my favorite pasta dish all around: Spaghetti ala Carbonara. The recipe I have used for the last few years is from Armandino Batali at Seattle's amazing Salumi. I have a, now quite bedraggled, copy of it that I got when I purchased some of their guanciale a couple years back. It's easy, quick and open to reasonable modification for whatever you have on hand. It's so easy that I'm able to give it off the top of my head, as I'm out writing over a pot of tea at Miro. The key is to get everything ready before you start cooking the pasta.
Armandino's Spaghetti ala Carbonara
- 13 oz Good Spaghetti
- 4 oz Guanciale, sliced and cut into about 1/2" squares (or just lardons)
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 Pepperoncini, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 T butter
- 3 eggs
- 2 oz. Parmesan, grated
- 2 oz. Pecorino, grated
- Salt and pepper
That's how Armandino's recipe goes. I often tweak it, for example, this time I used farfalle because I was fresh out of any kind of long pasta. And I tend to use a full pound of pasta because that's what's in the box, though I admit it does make it dryer. Sometimes I only use Parmesan, if that's all I've got. I've added Swiss Chard in with the sauteeing guanciale to good effect. My favorite thing about this is that there is no heavy cream, which always seemed like cheating to me and makes the dish heavy. Here you can really taste the guanciale. Wild success.