Leave it to Food Network’s own queen of Italian cuisine, Giada De Laurentiis, to transform a breakfast classic — bacon and eggs — into a rich, hearty pasta ideal for any time of day. While cooking for a packed crowd last weekend at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, in between answering fan questions and mingling with her onstage guest cook, Giada showed off how simple it is to make her carbonara, a next-level version of a traditional recipe featuring creamy eggs and Italian bacon. Read on below for her top-10 tips for making this silky, comforting pasta, then get her quick-fix recipe.
1. Instead of everyday bacon, Giada uses pancetta — an unsmoked Italian bacon — in her carbonara. When rendered, it becomes crispy and salty, and the drippings can be used to saute the onions.
2. Giada admits that while onions may not be an ingredient in the most-authentic carbonara recipes, they’re indeed a beloved element in her family’s recipe, as they offer sweetness, which offsets the salt, and promise “a lot of flavor.”
3. Be sure to cook the onions slowly and over low heat so they have time to develop their sugars.
4. It’s best to use room-temperature eggs, since they’re added directly to the hot pasta; cold eggs have a greater chance of seizing and scrambling, which doesn’t make for a smooth sauce.
5. Along with a few eggs, Giada adds a splash of cream, which, like the onions, is a staple in her family’s recipe. This makes the sauce extra creamy.
6. Once you pour the egg-and-cream mixture over the pasta, Giada says to simply “go, go, go,” meaning to stir quickly and constantly. By keeping the eggs moving, you’ll help to prevent scrambling.
7. As for cheese, Giada recommends a mixture of Gruyère and Parmesan; together they boast a warm, nutty flavor, and they melt easily to create a gooey finished product.
8. Giada doesn’t believe in draining the pasta; instead, just scoop out the noodles using a spider, and save the remaining pasta water, which is filled with valuable starch. You might need it to thin out the sauce.
9. While Giada opted for rigatoni to make her carbonara onstage, she says that you can use whichever shape is your favorite.
10. For an even fuller flavor, add green peas or fresh chives before serving. These will help to brighten up the dish, and chives will complement the sweet sauteed onions.
Get the Recipe: Penne a la Carbonara