You can't really call this a "traditional" carbonara, but if it's good enough for Giada, it's good enough for me. And boy, is it good! I adapted her recipe quite a bit to appeal to my own tastes, and because I simply could not justify putting 6 egg yolks into this one dish (but 2 cups of cheese, that's fine). Any way you make this, you really can't go wrong. With tons of cheese, cream, and smoky, salty bacon and pancetta, this is pasta heaven. Just be very careful not to boil the cream mixture once you've added it to the pasta, or you will end up with a curdled, separated, disgusting mess (trust me, I know).
I first had pasta carbonara at Three Tomatoes Trattoria in Burlington, VT and I was immediately hooked! How can you not be? And the addition of veggies in their version really lightened the dish and made it absolutely perfect. I've thought about adding some white wine to the recipe, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Feel free to play around and tell me how it goes!
Oh and the best part about this dish, it keeps great in the fridge and reheats wonderfully. Yay leftovers you actually WANT to eat!
Creamy Pasta Carbonara (serves 6-8)
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
4 slices pancetta, chopped
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated romano cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups mushrooms, quartered
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
12 oz. penne
1/4 cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
In a large bowl whisk together the cream, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepper. Then mix in both cheeses. Set aside.
Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil.
While the water is heating up, cook the pancetta and bacon together in a large frying pan over medium heat until golden and crispy. Remove to a paper towel to drain, but reserve the rendered fat in the pan.
Pour the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the instructions until al dente.
While the pasta cooks, sauté the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in the frying pan with the reserved fat.
When the mushrooms are just starting to brown and get tender, add in the peas and mix until the peas are just heated through.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the cream and cheese mixture to the pasta and mix on medium low heat until the sauce just thickens over the pasta and cheese is melted. DO NOT BOIL (trust me!)
Add the vegetables, bacon, and pancetta and mix until combined and well coated with sauce.
Toss or sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
You can use all parmesan, all romano, or use a different amount of each than I specified here. You can also use whatever vegetables you like. Mix it up and make it your own! Add some more protein with some grilled or roasted chicken and as always, fell free to leave out any spices you may not like.