Home Food DigiBites: Chef Charlie Shares His Favorite Pasta Dish Recipe – With Local...

DigiBites: Chef Charlie Shares His Favorite Pasta Dish Recipe – With Local Ingredient Sourcing

Photo: Epicurean Exchange

During our tours, Epicurean Exchange Culinary Travel always learns new dishes and techniques from amazing local Chefs. We return with new repertoire to share with our students and followers. We were in Tuscany and the Florence area for two weeks in the spring, and Chef Charlie and his group was taught to make his favorite pasta dish – Pasta Carbonara!  We now feature this dish in our “Cooking in Florence” class. If you wish to learn how to make this iconic Florentine dish as well as fresh pasta ravioli join us for this fun and delicious Italian class!  Due to the class popularity, we have added two additional summer sessions on July 17 and August 21. Contact Chef Charlie directly to register: charlie@epicureanexchange.com or 925-368-4181.

For our news24/680 followers, here is the recipe to try on your own. This dish is only as good as the ingredients. Pasta: photo attached. The best

Good Italian chefs need the right tools…

Italian-made pasta for this dish – Pasta Adruzzese di semola di grano duro (made with semolina durum wheat) I found this at the Berkeley Bowl. Pancetta: Molinari (found at better market’s deli counters; sliced to order).  Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese: buy a block and grate fresh – please no Kraft in the green canister : ) AND Extra-virgin olive oil from Amphora, Lafayette

Pasta Carbonara

 1-pound dried spaghetti

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, cubed

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 large eggs

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley NOTE: Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the pasta will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

 •  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes; until al dente (or to your desired doneness).

 •  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Turn heat to low. And add the garlic into the fat and sauté for less than 1 minute.

•  Once the pasta is done, and before draining, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce. Then, drain the pasta well, but do not rinse. Set aside.
•  Beat the eggs and cheese together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps.  •  When the pasta is ready, heat the skillet again with the pancetta on medium-high until hot. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat and fold the pancetta into the pasta.
•  Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg and cheese mixture on to the pasta, then stir quickly until the eggs thicken, and coat the pasta, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen). Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency (slightly creamy). Season the carbonara with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste; add 1/2 of the chopped parsley and stir to combine.
•  Mound the pasta into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and pass more grated cheese for those who care for more. Serves 4 to 6© 2019, Epicurean Exchange.  All rights reserved


  1. We are going to give this a try. Have most of the ingredients so we should be good to go. In the mood for pasta.

  2. All I had was a boring old salad at lunch and I’m really really hongry right now! Some pasta for dinner should do it. We’ll give this a try and o do you know the restaurant that offers cheese rounds for the table with customers just chipping off what they need? I’ve heard about this restaurant from a couple of friends and thought you might know…..

  3. No green cannister! Luv it. I got caught late at work but I hope I’m going to have some of this waiting for me when I get home!!! The man of the house likes playing chef!!

  4. This was tricky because I was switching pans and pots and bowls around a lot but it all came together in the end. I dont do parsley but I followed this recipe closely and it was great! If fed two hungry people over two nights — using grated fresh cheese really adds a lot with everything smelling really good when you dust it. Thanks for sharing your local shopping secrets, it helps to know where to get the good stuff.

    • It is a little complicated with all the last minute sequence, but it sounds like you did ok! It gets easier the more you do it! So there’s your excuse to make it often! – Chef Charlie

  5. Despite all the cheese and pasta this looked really lite and good and it was. We ate out on the deck and paired it with a nice but inexpensive red. I’m afraid Italian food is my weakness!

    • Sounds like the perfect evening! Glad you enjoyed the dish. Tuck this recipe away for later!
      – Chef Charlie

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