Orzotto Alla Carbonara

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35 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes | Cook: 30 minutes | Servings: 4 servings

This carbonara swaps out spaghetti for smooth, velvety orzo. It’s up to you how much you want to treat this eggy, peppery comfort like pasta or like risotto, where orzo is used like rice (minus all that stirring). For more of a risotto flavor, you could cook a finely diced shallot, maybe even some celery or celery seed, in the guanciale fat before adding the orzo, then add a splash of white wine. This creamy pantry dish is best eaten right off the heat, but it is odd how, even straight out of the fridge, it still stays glossy somehow, like a dreamy pasta salad.


  • 3 ½ ounces guanciale, pancetta or thick-cut bacon, cut into small dice (⅔ cup)
  • 1 ¼ cups/about 9 ounces dry orzo
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks


  1. Add the guanciale to a large, high-sided skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned and crispy all over, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the guanciale to a small dish. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet; reserve the extra fat for another use.
  2. Stir the orzo into the fat in the skillet until coated, then season with pepper. Stir constantly for just a few seconds, then add the chicken broth, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally so the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet, until the orzo is tender and loose like risotto, adding more broth as needed, 7 to 9 minutes. At this point, the pasta should have absorbed most of the liquid.
  3. Take the skillet off the heat and vigorously stir in 4 tablespoons of the pecorino. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and yolks. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons pecorino and ¼ cup of the orzo to temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling when added to the skillet. Stir this mixture into the hot orzo, then immediately shake the skillet with one hand and stir with the other until the orzo is creamy and thick, about 1 minute.
  4. Taste and add salt as desired. Divide among plates and sprinkle with more pecorino, black pepper and the reserved guanciale.

Source: NY Times Cooking