Szechuan peppercorn oil transforms one of the cornerstones of traditional Italian cuisine into a fun and exciting dish.
Picture this – your grandmother’s classic carbonara gets a mini-makeover that makes your taste buds tingle. Executive Culinary Director of Superfrico Atlantic City, Anna Aliteri experienced this when she created the Tingly Carbonara recipe and shared the it with you to experience the tingle sensation too.
While the classic dish is fantastic, the chef’s recipe provides a whole new flavor and texture to the traditional Italian dish and the result is unbelievably delicious. She starts by cooking rigatoni, a short, wide, tube-shaped pasta often used in baked pasta dishes. Typically, spaghetti is used in the traditional dish.
Now, here’s where things get fun, spicy and tingly. Once the pasta is al dente, she sizzles cured pork cheek and green Szechuan peppercorn oil–two incredible flavor bombs for the dish. Once cooked, the cured pork cheek cubes are removed from the pan but the pork fat is saved to spice up the pasta. This step gives the pasta a rich, fatty flavor with a touch of tingle from the peppercorn oil.
Next, more fun ensues when a mixture of eggs and pungent cheese snow gets mixed into the pan along with the pasta and pork fat. The tiny crispy pork cubes or slices are re-added to the pan before plating with a healthy chili crisp garnishing. The result, a beautiful dish boasting a fearless detour of flavors. Just like ones served at Superfrico in Atlantic City.
Why it works
- Using guanciale, green Szechuan peppercorn oil, chili crisp, and black peppercorn doubles up on flavor, giving the dish more complexity and tingle.
- Creating a “cheese snow” instead of shredding helps it incorporate more smoothly.
- Finishing the pasta and cheese in a separate large, heavy-bottomed pan ensures that the cheese doesn’t clump up from the residual heat in the pasta pan.
- Large heavy-bottomed pan/skillet
- Box grater or microplane
- Wooden spoon
- Liquid measuring cup
Step By Step Guide to Making Tingly Rigatoni Carbonara
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Prep cheese snow and cut guanciale – on the inverted, star-shaped side of a box grater, grate 3/4 c. pecorino romano cheese and 1/2 c. Parmigiano Reggiano. Set aside. Cut 8 oz. guanciale ( cured pork cheeks) into lardons, tiny strips, or cubes). Set aside.
- Combine both cheeses, whole eggs, and egg yolks in a bowl. Set aside.
- Cook pasta – bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously season with salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente.Drain pasta in a colander and —reserve 3 cups of pasta water.
- Cook guanciale – in a large heavy-bottomed pan on low heat, saute guanciale until fat is rendered and lardons begin to crisp, about 15 minutes.
- Spicing things up – Remove the guanciale from the pan with a slotted spoon. Keep about 1/4 cup of fat in the pan. In the remaining fat, add Szechuan peppercorn oil and crushed black peppercorns. Toast until pepper is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add flavor to pasta – add cooked pasta to the pan with pepper, fat, and 1 cup of pasta water. Cook on high heat until desired pasta doneness. Make sure to add pasta water as it evaporates. When finished, the pasta should look very glossy.
- Get cheesy – remove pasta from heat completely. Add egg and cheese mix and stir vigorously until the sauce is homogeneous and silky. If the sauce is too thick, add some pasta water. If the sauce is too thin, return the pan to a low flame and cook until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Final touches – add the pork back to the pan and give it a final stir. After plating, optional to top with chili crisp and enjoy!