Now that Food52's Editorial Assistant Brette Warshaw has stocked her First Kitchen, she's ready to throw parties in it: no-stress weeknight parties for anyone, anytime, and (almost) every kitchen. You're invited.

Today: How to bring Rome to your dinner table, with a photo tutorial.

Plated Carbonara

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I have a lot of dreams about Rome.

These are dreams of pockmarked cobblestones beneath my boots, of rumbling Vespas beneath my hands, of floury, velvety sheets of pasta that pass through my fingers. Of salty-soft foccacia; of milky-sweet gelato. Of the satisfying jaw-clench at the bottom of a negroni

But I do not live in Rome. My tiny, wall-of-appliances-in-a-living room "kitchen" is far from Rome. And so the way I go to Rome -- with a gaggle of friends in tow -- is through carbonara.

Carbonara -- the making of it, the eating of it -- is a bodily experience. (Just ask Nora Ephron.) Made with just guanciale (cured pork jowl), eggs, and cheese, it is a bowl of those textures of Rome that I dream about, the salty-slicky-stickiness that I crave. It is a food that makes you feel good: a lopsided-grin kind of feel-good, a slumping-in-your-chair-with-egg-on-your-face kind of feel-good.

In other words: it's a food perfect for a dinner party where the making of it -- and the eating of it -- are the main event.

Tossing carbonara

The Menu:

Cured meats + ricotta + toast
Spaghetti Carbonara
Pink Greens (with whatever greens you'd like)
Louisa's Cake

The weekend before: Get yourself out of bed and head to the kind of market where you can ask for cured pork jowl without getting an eyebrow-lift. Pick up your guanciale, cured meats, and ricotta. Put them in the back of your fridge and put skull-and-cross-bones post-its on them.

The night before: Make Louisa's Cake. Label it as such, and have your roommates think it's for someone else. (They'll be happily surprised later.)

Louisa's Cake

As soon as you get home from work/school/wherever you spend your days: Make the Pink Greens, and keep them on the stove, covered. You'll re-warm them before serving.

Before your guests arrive: Slice a good baguette or ciabatta; toast your slices in the oven. Set out with a bowl of ricotta topped with salt, pepper, and olive oil. (If you're an over-achiever, you can make Bruschetta with Ricotta, Honey and Lemon Zest instead.) Arrange your meats on a board or plate.

Pink Greens  Meats

Showtime: Time to make the carbonara. First, set a pot of salted water to boil. Then, brown your guanciale, and reserve the drippings. Crack your eggs in your serving bowl, whisk them, and add the guanciale.

Eggs/guanciale  Adding guanciale

Cook your pasta to al dente, and reserve some of the pasta water. Dump the pasta in the serving bowl, adding 2 tablespoons of pasta water and 1 teaspoon guanciale drippings. Toss vigorously to combine.

Dumping pasta  Adding pasta water

Tossing pasta  Tossing pasta

Gradually add your Pecorino, stirring and tossing to melt between batches. Season with salt and lots of black pepper.

Adding Pecorino  Adding pepper

Divide among plates, or eat straight from the serving bowl. 

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Adapted from Barbara Lynch's recipe in Bon Appetit's April 2012 issue

Serves 4-6

1/4 pound guanciale or pancetta, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
7 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 pound spaghetti
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly-grated Pecorino, plus more for garnish

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Josephine Wennerholm
    Josephine Wennerholm
  • blmg9818
  • lynneR
  • walkie74
  • Lauren Adams
    Lauren Adams
Brette Warshaw

Written by: Brette Warshaw

I'm a reader, eater, culinary thrill-seeker, and food nerd.


Josephine W. March 11, 2013
Great :)
blmg9818 March 11, 2013
Made this 4 dinner & it was awesome! I tweaked it a bit by using heavy cream instead of the pasta water, & no whole egg, also used parm instead of the percorino. I added the cream & pepper (no salt as I used pancetta) to the eggs, then pasta & cheese. It was faster than my usual method & had a silkier consistency, this will definitely be my new method.
Josephine W. March 10, 2013
oops, here is the link:
Josephine W. March 10, 2013
Have you heard about the technique of freezing the egg yolks first? It sounds like nonesense at first, but I have to say that it's a fool proof way to make it!
Brette W. March 10, 2013
Oh my goodness that is awesome! I can't wait to try.
lynneR March 10, 2013
Nora Ephron died last June, a fine writer, may she rest in peace.
I have to admit the recipe looks great.
walkie74 March 5, 2013
How do you keep it from scrambling?
Brette W. March 6, 2013
Make sure to toss it all together quickly and vigorously as soon as you add the pasta. You gotta have faith!
Lauren A. March 5, 2013
Except that it arrives at the table ice cold! Any recommendations for keeping it hot while you're doing all the tossing?
darksideofthespoon March 5, 2013
Mine was still piping hot when we served it! I'd suggest putting the cheese in before you toss the pasta. My egg mixture had the pasta water, lots of pepper, salt, cheese, guanciale & fat already whisked in, then I tossed in the pasta, and served it.
willward March 10, 2013
I like to have all the ingredients except the pasta in a smallish bowl. Bring the pasta in the colander, steaming hot, and pour it into the large serving bowl. Pour all the other ingrediants in and mix. It should mix in 3 minutes and still be very hot.
fiveandspice March 4, 2013
Looks awesome Brette. For me, BLTs are the party food that make me slump over all unreasonably happy and grinning. Yes, I serve BLTs at dinner parties on occasion. Tres fancy.
Brette W. March 4, 2013
LOVE that idea!
santa March 4, 2013
Looks great! What do you do with the egg whites?
Kristen M. March 4, 2013
How about this?