Clams Carbonara


Boston chef Matt Jennings’s pasta combines two beautiful things: salty, rich carbonara and spaghetti alle vongole, prepared with briny New England clams. Slideshow: More Clam Recipes 

Clams Carbonara
Photo: John Kernick
Total Time:
40 mins


  • 2 pounds razor or littleneck clams, scrubbed

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

  • 1 pound spaghetti

  • 1 large egg, plus 4 large egg yolks

  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

  • 8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice

  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


  1. In a large pot, bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil. Add the clams, cover and steam over moderately high heat until just opened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to a rimmed baking sheet; discard any that don’t open.

  2. Strain the cooking liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large bowl. Wipe out the pot and return the cooking liquid to it. Add enough water to the pot until three-fourths full and bring to a boil. Generously salt the water, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

  3. Meanwhile, remove the clams from their shells; discard the shells. Thickly slice the clams. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the egg yolks, the 3/4 cup of cheese and the nutmeg.

  4. Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and most of the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pan­cetta to a plate; leave the fat in the skillet.

  5. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pancetta, clams and spaghetti and stir to coat, about 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat and slowly drizzle in the egg mixture, tossing, until incorporated. Add the reserved pasta water, the chopped parsley and butter and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta into bowls and serve, passing more cheese at the table.

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