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Posted on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 10:20 a.m.

Pasta Carbonara is extra-special with homemade (locally purchased!) pancetta

By Peggy Lampman


Pasta Carbonara

Peggy Lampman | Contributor


The new Holiday Cookbook answers all of your cooking needs. Strapped for time? Check out the well-tested Super-Simple section.

Guiliano Bugialli, cookbook author and veritable master of Italian cuisine, specifically instructs not to use bacon when preparing Pasta Carbonara. "Pancetta", he writes in his carbonara recipe headnote, "of course, is not bacon, because it is not smoked; do not substitute bacon."

Through the years I've taken several of Bugialli's cooking classes, and he's achieved "guru" status with me. I don't take many liberties with his recipes; therefore, I don't substitute bacon for pancetta. But where to shop for pancetta. Well, it's Ann Arbor, after all, so there are many options.


Thick, meaty homemade pancetta made at Sparrow Meats in Kerrytown.

My latest discovery was finding out Sparrow Meats in Kerrytown makes their own pancetta. I was thrilled; I haven't had pancetta this thick, juicy and meaty since traveling in Italy. I am so excited about this, I expect I will using this again, sometime soon.

And of course a wonderful Pasta Carbonara is the first thing to come to mind, when optimizing the flavor of homemade pancetta, an ingredient found in so many classic Italian holiday favorites.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Cost: Approx. $9.50

Recipe adapted from Guiliano Bugialli's "Spaghetti alla Carbonara" (The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, 1977)


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces pancetta, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large eggs, whisked
1 cup grated Parmigianno Reggiano plus additional for grating*
1 pound spaghetti

*Pecorino Romano may be used as a substitution, or in addition to, the Parmesan.


1. In a heavy-bottomed saute pan over low heat, heat the olive oil and saute the pancetta, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until most of the fat is rendered from the pancetta and it is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
2. While pancetta is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, until it is tender but firm.
3. Warm a large bowl by filling it with hot water; drain water, then whisk the egg and cheese together in heated bowl. After spaghetti has just been drained, immediately toss hot spaghetti with the egg and cheese mixture, pancetta and any fat remaining in the saute pan.
4. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Pass additional Parmesan and the pepper grinder.

My new web site (packed with holiday recipes) has recently been launched. (! I'm a real-time food writer and photographer posting daily feeds on my website and in the Food & Drink section of You may also e-mail me at



Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

Sparrow's Market is a great place to shop for fresh everything. Sausages to Ribs to the smiling faces behind the counter keep me coming back over and over again!


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

I think ( and so does emeril lagasse, reading between the lines of his version) that this delicious recipe can be tweaked in a somewhat healthier direction by eliminating much of the rendered pancetta fat ( all of which seems to be included here) and substituting an additional bit of eggwhite/olive oil for moisture. I gonna try that shortly .


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

Another new local source for spectacular artisinal smoked meats ( although not pancetta specifically ) is "biercamps artisinal sausage" ( they do a variety of bacons that should work fine with this recipe..)... They're located off the Produce Station parking lot on State near stimson.

Peggy Lampman

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

Hey. Everytime I shop at Produce Station I mean to go in there and check out their goods. I absolutely will next time and thanks for the reminder!

Jeff Renner

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 2:45 a.m.

Wonderful to hear that Sparrow's has pancetta. I'm looking forward to getting some. On a related note, I was pleased to discover a couple of years ago that Arbor Farms carries British-style back bacon from Beeler's in Iowa. Tastes to me like the real thing. Nothing like an English fry-up breakfast.

Peggy Lampman

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

Hi Jeff. I will try that non-streaky bacon as soon as I can. Thanks for the update! Bob and his crew are making up some incredible delicacies these days. I'm facinated.

Mary Bilyeu

Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 6:22 p.m.

Sigh ... :)

Peggy Lampman

Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 8:09 p.m.

Hey Mary! Happy Holidays!!! Thanks for your yummy treats!!!


Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Well, I guess this will be tonight's dinner!

Simon Green

Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 5:42 p.m.

I make it with bacon. Bacon makes everything better. Maybe the city council should eat more bacon.

Peggy Lampman

Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

Bacon, ummm. I'm off to city hall with some pork slabs - cured and uncured - to make everything better. (: Peggy