A carbonara sauce always has eggs, bacon (usually pancetta) and Parmesan or pecorino cheese; some versions contain heavy cream, others do not. Top Chef contestants Elia Aboumrad and Sam Talbot made their decadent sauce with plenty of cream; to add color and freshness they also added a less conventional ingredient—a handful of green peas.
How to Make the Ultimate Umami-Bomb Vegetarian Demi-Glace
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed
6 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/3 inch thick and cut into 1-inch matchsticks
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
3/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen baby peas
3/4 pound spaghetti
Freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Discard the garlic. Add the pancetta to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp and the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet. Add the cream and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, then pour into a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks and 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
Add salt to the pot of boiling water. Add the baby peas and cook just until tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked peas to a bowl.
Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until al dente; drain. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cream mixture, pancetta and peas. Season with salt and pepper and toss until the sauce coats the spaghetti. Transfer to bowls and serve immediately with the remaining Parmesan.