Pasta Porn: Carbonara. The Irresistible Cheesy, Smoky, Porky, Peppery Noodles that I Love! Carbonara Day Stretches into One Month at Casa Barilla.

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Pasta alla Carbonara is alla amazing!

Carbonara is a peculiar name for a pasta dish consisting of pancetta or guanciale, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, eggs, cream and freshly cracked pepper. According to food lore, in mid-20th century Rome, this dish was popular as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. There are other theories too, mostly revolving around charcoal and the men who worked with the stuff. Whatever the reason, it's one of my favorite pasta dishes mainly because of its purity and simplicity. Just a few basic ingredients results in a greatly satisfying plate of pasta.

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Chef Alfonso Sanna of Casa Barilla Restaurants

At the newly launched Casa Barilla in the luxurious South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (my old stomping grounds), chef Alfonso Sanna sets up his ingredients for a presentation of his signature pasta alla carbonara. He explains that although spaghetti is a favorite style for pasta alla carbonara, many pasta styles are used. Sanna himself enjoys penne with his carbonara sauce.

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The pasta plate takes a few quick minutes to cook. The egg yolks are the ingredients that need particularly careful attention due to their quick curdling nature. "You don't want scrambled eggs," reminds Sanna.

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Bits of pancetta are rendered in a pan and set aside. The aroma and smoky soul of pasta alla carbonara now reveals itself. Guanciale or cured pork jowl is also an option.

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The al dente spaghetti is mixed in with the pork as well as some pasta water. This savory flavor of the pork infuse with the spaghetti.

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A mixture of egg yolk, cream and milk is worked into the pasta thickening the sauce and binding the plate together with all its richness. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino cheeses top off the magnificent pile of pasta. Time to eat like a famished Italian charcoal worker.

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Casa Barilla's Carbonara Month is from April 6 to May 6. That's one month of celebrating carbonara!

Casa Barilla at the South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA
phone: 657.205.1025

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