Right now at Serious Eats they’re giving away a couple copies of Toronto chef Jennifer McLagan’s Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient. In the coming weeks (as my lard collection continues to grow) I’m gonna have a lot to say about pork fat, and plan to put this book to good use (polvorones, anyone?). But I’ve tried one recipe so far, the relatively simple spaghetti carbonara, that classic union of beaten eggs, cheese, pancetta (or guanciale if you can get it), and pasta.
I normally work from Marcella Hazan’s recipe, and McLagan’s isn’t that much different except that it, more authentically it seems, excludes garlic. I had no pancetta on hand, and was forced to rely on a small slab of La Quercia lardo (get you some at Marion Street Cheese Market Cafe) and a larger piece of Hungarian Brand slab bacon, the sort of intensely smoky product Signora Hazan turns up her nose at for this dish. Neither recipe mentions the crucial step of tempering the eggs with a touch of hot pasta water before adding them to the hot pan. That gives you a smooth, luxurious sauce rather than clumps of scrambled eggs in your pasta. Don’t skip it.
It suffered nothing from mingling pork products–there are no purists in this house–and once I described dinner as “bacon and egg spaghetti,” the pickier eaters didn’t notice I used whole grain spaghetti and chopped parsley.