Fried Chicken Carbonara
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
9 egg yolks
¾ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
1 ¼ cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
Black pepper, freshly cracked
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic flour
½ tbsp cumin
½ tbsp chili powder
Canola or vegetable oil (you should use enough to fill the pan ¼ of the way up. Any more than this and the oil could boil over)
Kosher salt, to taste
Notes before you begin
This dish is all about timing. The key to a good carbonara is moving the pasta off the stove and directly into the egg and cheese mix. The heat from the pasta will lightly cook the eggs so make sure everything is ready to go before you make the pasta.
Mix flour, paprika, garlic flour, cumin, chili powder, a few twists of a pepper mill, and three hefty pinches of salt together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk one of the eggs. Dice the chicken thighs into ¾ inch pieces, cover them in the egg, completely dredge in the flour, and place on a wire rack. This will give the flour and egg time to dry a little and really adhere to the chicken. It also means that when you fry it, those crumbly bits will turn into really crispy pieces.
Crack the other egg into a bowl with the nine egg yolks, grate in the Parmesan and Pecorino, and crack a lot of pepper over the top — I would say at least 12–15 turns of the pepper mill. Mix everything together so that the cheese and egg are entirely combined, cover, and set aside.
Pour oil into a cast iron or frying pan (heavy bottomed is preferred) up about ¼ of the way and heat on medium until it reaches 350F. Using a pair of metal tongs, gently place the pieces of chicken into the pan in batches, making sure there is about ¼ inch of space between each piece. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan as it can bring down the temperature of the cooking oil. Cook until each piece gets crisped on the bottom, checking every three minutes or so. Once lightly browned and crispy, flip each piece over and cook on the other side for another four minutes. To check doneness, remove the largest piece and cut it open, checking to see if it is cooked through. Once cooked, remove all of the pieces from the oil onto a paper towel lined bowl and repeat with the next batch. Once all the chicken is cooked, cover with a tin foil and place in the oven (the oven should be off but it will hold the heat pretty well).
Bring a pot up to boil with a lot of salt (the pasta water should be as salty as the ocean), pour in the rigatoni, and cook until one minute before the box says you should strain the pasta. Then, start tasting pieces every twenty seconds until it is perfectly al dente (a little chewy). In this recipe, the pasta needs to be cooked to exactly the doneness you want it to be as it will not keep cooking in the sauce. Right before you strain, skim off a half cup of salty, starchy pasta water.
Let’s bring it all together! Pour the pasta into the egg and cheese mixture, add a few splashes of pasta water (more if you want a looser sauce), and fold in the rigatoni. Once all of the pasta has been coated by the egg and cheese mix, throw in the fried chicken pieces and thoroughly mix again. The heat from the pasta and the chicken will gently cook the egg and warm the cheese, resulting in a rich and gooey sauce. Serve with fresh cracked black pepper, a little more Pecorino, and salt to taste.