Cacio e Pepe with bacon!

Every time I make spaghetti carbonara I think it would benefit from a bunch of crispy bacon, so here it is … a tangled mash up of cacio e pepe and carbonara. I think it is perfect! Also quick and easy.

A tangle of creamy pasta, sharp cheese and crunchy bacon can’t be beat. Apologies to Italian pasta grannies for any offence this mash up could cause, but it sure is delicious.

Kosher salt

  • 6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
  • 1tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 oz cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • ¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino

This serves 2 as a generous dinner helping – adjust for your table!

Slice bacon into thin strips and cook over medium heat, stirring often to separate, until crispy and cooked through. Set aside on paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.

Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving ¾ cup pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.

Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add whisked egg, Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Do this relatively quickly so the egg doesn’t scramble. You only want it to cook through via the hot pasta. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.) Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve, with a generous helping of more Parmesan and cracked pepper.

If you only have one of the cheeses, that is fine too – I’ve had to adapt this a few times during our Covid restrictions to work with whatever I had on hand.

Serve with this aromatic green onion and pepper focaccia and a big salad.

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