I’ve always used bacon for carbonara, but for the kick-off of this quest, I decided to go all out and try the pancetta. I got it at the deli counter of a local grocery store (which is what, I believe, the Americans refer to as a supermarket). Lesson #1: Don’t say, “Whatever,” when they aske you how you want it sliced, or you’ll take the chance of winding up with something like this:
It’s kind of hard to chop that into the one-inch cubes De Laurentiis calls for in her ingredient list. Well, mistakes at the deli counter or the cutting board, or the stove are all a part of cooking, so on I went with it. Anyhow, I’m more interested in the sauce and how it brings everything together.
I confess to a second recipe adjustment in addition to the unwitting pancetta thing: I left out the parsley in the hope of enticing my younger children with the promise of Italian (whispered–what they don’t know about this new type of meat won’t hurt them) bacon (said loudly and with confidence) and no green things. Oh wait. I lied. There was another adjustment. I used rotini instead of penne. I like the way it holds sauce.
The results? My son found the pancetta too salty and the sauce got cold too quickly, despite the instruction to bring the eggs and cream to room temperature before using. I would have liked the sauce to have been a bit thicker. And it doesn’t reheat well, at least not in the microwave. (When I heated the leftovers, they became a sort of pasta quiche. It was edible, but not a new and wonderful culinary invention.) Still, the fresh sauce had a good, creamy flavour and it was an enjoyable meal. Hmm. Might have to play around with this one a bit. But first, let’s see what Mario and Nigella have to offer!