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Spaghetti Carbonara and Chardonnay

 Spaghetti Carbonara is a traditional Italian pasta dish that is made from eggs, hard cheese, black pepper and fatty cured pork. Browse the internet and you will find versions that add cream, peas or garlic. 

At its simplest and traditional form pasta carbonara is a silky rich decadent sauce that pairs perfectly with the 2021 Iron Hub Small Lot Chardonnay. 

Full disclosure, I deviated from the traditional recipe by using thick sliced bacon instead of guanciale or pancetta and I added garlic. Guanciale, pork jowl, has a rich flavor and is the traditional protein used in carbonara, but can be hard to find and requires very precise cooking. Pancetta, pork belly, is a great substitute for guanciale, is more readily available and more forgiving while cooking. Thick sliced bacon, it’s the most readily available and the most cost-effective alternative to guanciale and pancetta and quite honestly it is what I had on hand. 

Ingredients 

  • ½ pound thick sliced bacon, about 7 slices. Cut bacon slices into strips about the width of your finger. 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 large egg yolks 
  • 3.5 oz Parmigiano Reggiano Avoid buying already grated cheese. Find a good block and grate yourself. Also grate your cheese and leave out to bring it to room temperature. 
  • ¼ tsp black pepper Black pepper is a key component of this dish. ¼ tsp is a starting point and you should adjust to your liking. 
  • 1 package spaghetti (16 to 17 oz) 
  • ½ cup pasta water 
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced 

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolks to combine. Using a spoon, add grated, room-temperature Parmigiano Reggiano and mix with black pepper. Set bowl aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. I used about 2 Tbs of salt. Once the water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package instructions. You want the pasta to be cooked al dente.
  3. While pasta is boiling, cook bacon strips in your favorite pan. I add the bacon to a cold pan and cook over medium-high heat until the bacon is slightly crispy and a nice golden color. Just as your bacon is beginning to crisp and finish cooking, add minced garlic. Be sure to not burn the garlic and just lightly toast it. If your bacon cooks faster than your pasta, turn off the heat and leave it in the pan.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of pasta water. You will probably only use ½ cup but having a little more just in case is ok.
  5. Drain pasta in a colander and add warm pasta back to pan with bacon in it. Using tongs, coat pasta in bacon oil. Make sure to coat all the pasta in oil.
  6. Add the warm pasta coated in oil to the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture. Using tongs, thoroughly mix egg and cheese with pasta. Add ½ cup of reserved pasta water to the mixture and continue to mix until you have a creamy silky consistency.
  7. Immediately serve and enjoy with Iron Hub Chardonnay.