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Carbonara with Crab

Big lumps of crab are the secret to this twist on pasta carbonara. Crab, celery, lemon and sherry create a bright flavor that mixes with rich, creamy yolks, fatty pancetta and sharp cheese.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 pound lump Dungeness or King crab leg meat

1/3 pound meaty pancetta or guanciale 

1 shallot

1 small rib of celery with leafy tops

4 cloves garlic

A few sprigs of thyme 

6 large eggs 

About 3/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano, loosely packed 

About 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, loosely packed 

Salt and pepper 

1 pound spaghetti 


1/2 cup sherry or white wine 

1 small lemon 

2 scallions 

A small handful of celery tops 

Togarashi or Old Bay, for sprinkling 

Negroni, for serving, recipe follows


1 orange wedge

1 1/2 ounces gin 

1 1/2 ounces Campari 

3/4 ounces red vermouth 

2 dashes Angostura bitters 


Club soda, for topping, if desired 

1 lemon twist 


  1. Gather your ingredients.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta, 4 to 6 quarts.
  3. Place crab meat in bowl and run your fingers through it to check for connective tissue, sharp pieces and shell. Pull into long thin strands and small bite-size pieces.
  4. Chop the pancetta or guanciale into 1/8 to 1/4-inch dice.
  5. Peel and chop the shallot, finely chop the celery and pile with it. Peel the garlic cloves and chop or have a grater at hand. Stem the thyme and chop.
  6. Line a small bowl with a baggie if you wish to save the egg whites. Crack and separate the eggs, with yolks in medium glass mixing bowl. Whisk up eggs and whisk in cheeses, salt and pepper.
  7. Salt water for pasta and drop the pasta.
  8. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat with EVOO, 3 turns of the pan. Add pancetta or guanciale and render 2 to 3 minutes. Add shallots, celery, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir a minute or 2, then add sherry or white wine and crab. Toss to warm through and let sherry or wine absorb. Add juice of 1 lemon.
  9. Add 1 cup starchy boiling water to eggs to temper them. Drain pasta and add to crab. Toss with eggs and cheeses off heat for 1 full minute. Adjust salt and pepper, serve.


Yield: 1 serving
  1. Muddle orange at bottom of a rocks glass. Add remaining ingredients. Fill glass with ice and stir gently. Top with club soda if desired. Garnish with lemon twist.
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