Bucatini with Lemony Carbonara
Spaghetti and fettuccine are the most known types of long strand pasta, but nothing compares to bucatini, the delicate tube-shaped noodles with a hollow center. A clever upgrade to the flat long strands, these tiny pasta straws not only get coated with sauce but also filled up from top to bottom. That’s why a light yet creamy carbonara makes the perfect sauce for bringing these specialty noodles to life.
Made with simple ingredients that can be found in any kitchen—egg whites, Parmesan, and extra virgin olive oil—this classic carbonara recipe is your go-to meal when you’re in the mood for easy-to-make Italian comfort food. The glossy, glorious sauce smothers and infuses these durum wheat cylinders with just the right amount of zest and creaminess. The lemon juice and finely graded peel also helps balance the rich and briny pancetta with a kick of bright floral notes. Sprinkle with fresh herbs for an aromatic garnish and bon appetito!
Nonna’s Tip: A flavorful update on the traditional recipe, make the savory and tender bites of pancetta stand out even more when you soften its brininess with a handful of capers. And if you’re too hungry to wait, other long-strand pastas like spaghetti or fettuccine can be substituted.
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 shallots, chopped finely
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 oz Parmesan
2 large egg yolks
17 oz bucatini or other types of long-strand pasta like spaghetti, or fettuccine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper and kosher salt
Fresh herbs like parsley and basil for garnish
Optional: 2 tablespoons capers
1.Add 6 quarts of water to a large pot. When it starts to steam, add 3 tablespoons kosher salt and cover with a lid, which will help boil the water faster.
2.While you wait for the water to boil, remove the gaunciale or pancetta from the package and cut into small cubes, about 1/4 inches each. Set aside. Grade the Parmesan cheese, leaving half for garnish and setting aside the rest.
3.In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, plus half of the grated Parmesan and a few cranks of pepper.
4.In a heavy pot or Dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté guanciale on medium heat. Toss the meat often until browned and crisped, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add fresh ground pepper and stir until it becomes fragrant, about a minute.
5.Remove pot from heat. Using a slotted spoon, fish out pieces of guanciale or pancetta and place in a small bowl. Pour the fat into a heatproof measuring cup, and then add 3 tablespoons back into the pot. Discard any remaining fat.
6.Cook the pasta according to the instructions, minus 2 minutes cooking time. Just before the pasta is finished, carefully ladle 1 and ¾ cups of the cooking liquid into a heatproof measuring cup.
7.While the pasta cooks, prep the shallots. First, trim off the top and peel the shallot. Then, finely slice it by cutting in half from top to bottom. With the cut side down, make a few horizontal slices that are just shy of the root. Hold the shallot firmly and slice vertically, continuing until you reach the root, which can be discarded.
8.Prep the garlic by pressing and rolling the cloves with the center of your hand, which will loosen its papery layers. Peel the loose skins off the cloves and discard. With a pairing knife, cut off the end of the clove, then thinly slice and set aside.
9.When the pasta is finished cooking, add to the skillet or Dutch oven, plus the leftover cooking liquid. Add the egg yolk mixture and Parmesan, then toss until al dente, about 2 minutes. If needed, add more cooking liquid until a smooth, creamy sauce coats the pasta.
10. Add lemon juice and lemon zest; toss to coat while adding more liquid as needed.
11.Plate your dish by dividing into two bowls; top with more Parmesan, fresh herbs, capers (optional), and sliced lemon zest for garnish.
Make this satisfying meal complete with a crusty baguette to rescue any remaining sauce in the bowl—it’s that delicious—and a glass of crisp, smooth white wine like Pinot Grigio or Gavi di Gavi, which wonderfully complements the salty richness of pancetta or guanciale.