This classic Roman dish, which translates as Coal Miner's Spaghetti as a nod to the visual dominance of black pepper, has many versions but the very best is the most traditional.
Here, I give you my best Spaghetti Carbonara, adapted from a recipe in The Good Cook’s Book of Salt & Pepper, to highlight a new bacon I was trying, that produced by Contimo Provisions in Napa Valley. Use the best black pepper you can and be sure to grind it at the last minute, so that it has its full range of flavors and aromas.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a generous 3 tablespoons of salt, stir in the pasta, and cook according to package directions until just done. Stir now and then. Drain but do not rinse the pasta.
Chop or crumble the bacon and set it aside.
Break the eggs into a deep bowl and whisk until very smooth and creamy. Put the garlic into a garlic press and press it into the eggs. Add the cheese and whisk again.
Add freshly ground black pepper, using at least a tablespoon of it and more to taste. Add three-quarters of the bacon and whisk again.
When the pasta is done and drained, immediately tip it into the bowl with the egg mixture and use two forks to lift the pasta over and over until the egg mixture is evenly distributed and all the pasta has been coated with it.
Divide among individual pasta bowls, add several turns of black pepper, scatter the bacon on top, and enjoy right away.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is typically used in Spaghetti Carbonara but here in Sonoma County I often use a local cheese, such as Vella Dry Jack, Valley Ford Estero Gold, or Bellwether Farms Pepato.