When I make pasta carbonara, I normally begin the sauce by sizzling bacon bits in olive oil. However, it occurred to me recently that using duck fat in place of some of the oil would kick up my carbonara considerably, and I was right. I urge you to try this hack to improve your pasta carbonara at home. In addition, it might sound strange but I found that using Niman Ranch Uncured Maple Bacon gave a slightly sweet flavor to the sauce that balanced out the saltiness very nicely.
- 2 Tbsp duck fat
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb. high-quality bacon, such as Niman Ranch Uncured Maple Bacon, small diced
- 1 lb. dried pasta, such as bucatini
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional to serve with the pasta
- 4 large eggs, whites separated from yolks
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt for the pasta water
- Place the duck fat and the olive oil and bacon into a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Cook the meat until it has rendered its fat and turned crisp, about 10 minutes. Don’t drain the oil, just set the pan aside, off the heat.
- While the bacon is cooking, bring a big pot of water with a couple tablespoons of salt to a boil. Add the bucatini (or other pasta) and cook, according to package directions, until just al dente. Scoop out about a quarter cup of the pasta water for use later. Drain the pasta.
- Add the reserved pasta water to the pan with the olive oil and the bacon, then toss the pasta into the mixture.
- Next, turn off the heat, add 1 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, the egg whites, and black pepper (to taste) to the pasta. Toss vigorously, until well mixed. The key here is for the egg whites to coat the pasta, but not to cook so much that they get scrambled. That’s why you want to do this step off the heat. The egg whites will “cook” slightly in the warm pasta.
- Divide the pasta among four large, warmed serving bowls. You can heat bowls in a warm oven or dishwasher; I just nuke mine for a couple of minutes in the microwave. Make a little nest in the center of each bowl of pasta and gently drop an egg yolk into each nest.
- Season the egg yolks with an additional sprinkle of Parmigiano and a pinch of black pepper. Serve immediately and allow each guest to stir the raw yolk into his/her pasta.
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THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.