Quick and Easy

Risotto Alla Carbonara

by:
March  5, 2020
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
Author Notes

There's comfort food—then there's comfort cooking. For me, risotto falls into both. And weekends are perfect for the mindless inattention that risotto-stirring requires. This is alla carbonara—because for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (and every day), what better combo than bacon and eggs?

A Note on Sourcing Guanciale: Your local Whole Foods should have this fatty, gamey, wonderful Italian cured pork jowl, though you may want to call ahead just in case. Specialty Italian stores like Eataly and Buon'Italia will carry it for sure. In New York City, Dickson's Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market has some of the most delicious guanciale I've ever cooked with. But if you're in a pinch and can't find this particular pork product, then bacon or pancetta would work beautifully. You only need a bit—two ounces.

This recipe has been developed for my column, Table for One, which means it makes exactly one portion. If you're cooking for two or four, you can just multiply the amounts by the number of mouths you're feeding. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: A Dish As Comforting to Cook As It Is to Eat. —The Editors

  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 1
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces guanciale, diced (bacon or pancetta would work, too)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (especially Better Than Bouillon), kept hot in a separate saucepan over low heat
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Finely grated Pecorino Romano, to taste, plus shavings for garnish
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Starting from a cold pan, heat the guanciale in the olive oil until it has crisped up significantly and rendered down much of its fat, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Pour out the fat, reserving 1 tablespoon in the pan. Sauté the shallot in the guanciale fat for a minute, then add the rice and do the same. Splash in the wine and reduce completely.
  2. Slowly stir in the hot chicken broth, one ladleful at a time, only adding more once the last addition has been fully absorbed by the rice. This should take about 16 minutes. When you're nearing the end of your broth, taste your rice: Is it al dente? That is, soft on the outside with a tiny bite left in the center of the grain? When it's at this stage, remove from heat, cover, and let sit to finish cooking while you prepare the egg mixture.
  3. In a small bowl or ramekin, whisk together the egg yolk, cream, black pepper, and as much cheese as you want (you can add more later) into a pale-yellow emulsion, which should then be folded into the still-warm risotto, loosening it up a bit.
  4. Plate your risotto. Top with the reserved crispy guanciale, a few large shavings of Pecorino, and a very generous crack of black pepper (which is, allegedly, the "charcoal" in carbonara).

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Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.