Posted: January 25, 2015 in bacon, carbonara, Food, guanciale, pasta, pork, pork jowl, pork jowls, Recipes
Tags: , , , , , ,

Pasta is not something I’m currently eating on my low-carb diet. But it’s a great recipe I wanted to pass on to others.

Sometimes the simplest dishes are the toughest to execute well. Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of those dishes. All you need is pasta, olive oil, raw eggs (separated), guanciale, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and pepper. (Real carbonara doesn’t use cream.)

You boil the pasta. Chop the guanciale (cured pork cheeks or jowls) and saute in a pan with the olive oil. Do not drain the fat. Drain the pasta and drop it into the pan with the guanciale, adding about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Shake it around for a minute and remove from the heat. Add some of the cheese and the egg whites, season with pepper, and mix the pasta well. Separate into bowls, making a nest with the pasta. Add an egg yolk to each, sprinkling more cheese on top. What could go wrong, right?

There’s a lot to be said for finesse!

I make my own guanciale. I buy Berkshire pork jowls and cure them. Then they go through a drying phase for a few weeks before I wrap and freeze them in chunks. Whenever a dish calls for guanciale (my daughter loves it on pizza), I simply unwrap some, let it thaw, then chop it up and saute it. The fat in the pork jowls is very different from other parts of the pig, and there’s no replacing that flavor. When making Spaghetti all Carbonara, some cooks replace the guanciale with pancetta or bacon, but that’s not for me.

It’s also important to note that this dish relies a lot on fat, so good fat is really important. Berkshire pork fat has good fat. Organic butter has good fat. And the cheese? Parmigiano-Reggiano isn’t called “The King of Cheeses” for no reason!

I decided to make a Not-Quite-Carbonara dish. I say “not quite” because I left out the eggs, which my daughter doesn’t like. It still came out pretty damn good…




1 lb. pasta (we like bucatini over spaghetti)

1 lb. Berkshire pork guanciale, chopped into small (1/4″) cubes

olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

black pepper


Boil the pasta to the just-before-al dente stage.

In a large saucepan, heat the guanciale and olive oil until the fat has rendered. Do not drain the fat. Turn the heat off, add the butter and let it melt.

Drain the pasta and drop it into the pan with the guanciale, stirring the pasta around to coat with the ingredients. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and season with pepper, still mixing.

Distribute the pasta into individual bowls, making sure everyone gets the tasty bits of guanciale. Sprinkle some more of the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Serve immediately.



  1. Sarah says:

    Is there any possibility you’ve tried this with spaghetti squash yet, to see if you can fit it into this wonderful diet we’re on?

    Fearless Lea



    • Alz355 says:

      I haven’t tried spaghetti squash yet. I don’t know why. But they say that 1 cup has 10 carbs. At least now, at the start of my diet, that is still too many for me. But later, I think it will be a good substitute for pasta.


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