Spaghetti alla carbonara -- named for the charcoal maker's wife -- is ideal for an impromptu supper. When you make something this simple, it requires the best ingredients: fresh eggs, a fruity oil, freshly ground pepper, and top-quality pancetta or bacon. This version, adapted from ''Pane e Salute," by Caleb Barber and Deirdre Heekin, who own the Woodstock, Vt., restaurant of the same name, serves two. The portion of spaghetti in this rich dish is small so the flavors of the sauce are not lost. Serves 2.
|2||tablespoons olive oil|
|1/3||cup diced pancetta (or bacon)|
|½||cup freshly grated Parmesan|
|¾||teaspoon freshly ground black pepper|
|1||teaspoon salt, or to taste|
|¼||cup reserved pasta water|
1. Set a large pot of water over high heat for the spaghetti.
2. In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook the pancetta, stirring, for 5 minutes or until it browns. Remove from the heat. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat. (If using bacon, brown it in a dry skillet until golden).
3. Set a large saucepan on the counter. Add the yolks. Sprinkle with cheese. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and the pepper. Place the warm pancetta and 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan at the sides of the pan.
4. When the pasta water is bubbling, add the salt and spaghetti. Stir and cook for 8 minutes or until it is tender but still has some bite.
5. Dip a heat-proof measuring cup into the pot and remove ½ cup water. Drain the pasta without shaking the colander. Tip the pasta into the saucepan of eggs. Toss gently. Add as much as ¼ cup cooking water to thin the sauce. If you like, set the pasta over medium-low heat for 30 seconds, stirring, without letting the eggs curdle. Add more salt, pepper, and Parmesan, if you like.