Once you’ve tasted the classic Roman Spaghetti alla Carbonara you’ll never forget the experience. This recipe shows you how to correctly balance the cheese, eggs, pork and pasta. When you are craving comfort food, NOTHING cures you like creamy pasta carbonara. The secret is in the way you handle the hot pasta and eggs and we’ll share that secret with you.
For this recipe you will need: guanciale or pancetta, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, dry white wine, eggs, Pecorino romano cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, coarsely ground black pepper, sea salt, fresh flat leaf parsley, spaghetti.
Key to Spaghetti alla Carbonara
The key to this spectacular dish is its rich ingredients:
- egg yolks
- two different cheese
- the spiciness of two kinds of pepper
- crispy, salty pan-fried nuggets of guanciale — Italian salt-cured pig jowl, or pancetta — salt-cured Italian bacon.
Your first taste will have your eyes lifting up to heaven because a taste so divine couldn’t be of this earth.
The simplicity of this recipe reminds me of the Stracciatella Alla Romana recipe. So easy to make and yet so good.
Every Italian region wants pasta carbonara credit
Since the pasta alla carbonara dish is so delicious, everyone wants credit for the original recipe. Most of the time it’s attributed to the cucina romana.
Some of the theories surrounding pasta alla carbonara
- Competing theories give credit to the woodcutters in the Apennine mountains of the Abruzzo, and also coal workers because ” alla carbonara” means coal worker’s style.
- Another theory credits the food shortages during World War II. During the war, the Allied troops in Rome distributed military rations of powdered eggs and bacon. The story goes that the clever Romans used these ingredients to make the dish.
- Another credit goes to the Lazio region where pasta is seasoned with eggs, lard, and pecorino cheese.
- The simplest and most believable story is that this type of dish always existed at a family level and at the local osterie (simple Italian restaurants, usually inexpensive) because the ingredients are simple and not impossible to obtain.
Pasta alla Carbonara Belongs to Rustic Italian Cuisine
It doesn’t matter where spaghetti alla carbonara started, it’s an important part of the rustic Italian cuisine and everyone can claim it.
The traditional carbonara recipe calls for the guanciale but it might be hard to find so a good substitute is the pancetta.
If you decide to use bacon, be sure it isn’t smoked . . . smoked bacon will overpower the delicate flavor of this dish.
Although you may find some recipes may add cream to the sauce, an authentic carbonara sauce recipe does not use heavy cream. The combination of eggs, cheese, and pasta water combine to make a creamy, silky sauce that doesn’t need that cream.
Tips for Making Creamy Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
Pasta water should taste like the ocean.
For a full pound of pasta you should add a heaping tablespoon of salt. This is what gives the spaghetti or whatever pasta you use taste.
Save some pasta water.
Whenever you cook pasta always save some of the starchy cooking water. You will need some of this water to make the creamy sauce for the pasta carbonara. This tip is also useful whenever making any type of pasta with sauce.
Toss the pasta in the guanciale or pancetta fat.
Once you cook the meat keep the fat in the pan and toss the pasta in it. You want the pasta to be lightly coated by the fat.
Turn off the heat when adding the eggs.
After tossing the spaghetti in the pancetta or guanciale oil, remove the skillet from the heat and add a couple of teaspoonfuls of the pasta water to it so that the bottom of the pan isn’t dry.
Stir in the egg, Parmesan mixture and keep tossing the pasta until the eggs begin to thicken and turn to a smooth custard. Stirring keeps the eggs from curdling while the heat from the pan and the pasta cooks the eggs.
Season the pasta alla carbonara
Season with coarsely ground black pepper and generously sprinkle with Italian parsley. Serve immediately.
We hope you make this pasta alla carbonara recipe for you and your family. We’re sure you’ll consider this recipe a keeper.
Tutti a tavola è pronto
Un caro saluto e alla prossima.
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Classic Roman Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
Pasta carbonara is all about balancing eggs, cheese, pork, and pasta. The sauce is rich and creamy and so good you’ll be craving more. Yes, it is comfort food at its finest. The eggs act as an emulsifier that binds the fat from the pork to the sauce so that it is velvety smooth and creamy.
If you like this recipe, please consider giving it a 5-star rating.
Classic Roman Spaghetti alla Carbonara
- 1 lb. spaghetti or 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
- 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 8 oz. guanciale or pancetta cubed in small 1/4" cubes
- 1/2 c. dry white wine
- 4 fresh large eggs --warm to room temperature -- separate two of the eggs and use just the yolks saving the whites for another use
- 1/2 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese freshly grated
- 1/2 c. Pecorino cheese freshly grated
- Coarsely ground black pepper -- q.b. quanto basta -- or to your taste
- Sea salt
- Fresh flat leaf Italian parsley-- use a generous amount coarsely chopped
- Break the two eggs into a bowl, adding the yolks and both cheeses.Whisk to blend well, set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
- While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet, add the olive oil and the guanciale or pancetta, sauté until just starting to brown about 2 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another 2-3 minutes more. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Set aside but keep warm.
- When pasta is done, reserve about 1 cup of the water then drain the pasta and add the pasta to the large skillet and toss with the meat in the pan.
- From the 1 cup of reserved water take 1/2 cup and slowly pour into the egg mixture while stirring briskly. This tempers the eggs and prevents them from scrambling when you add them to the hot pasta.
- Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss rapidly to coat the pasta with the sauce. This is best done with tongs. If the sauce seems too thick then add a little more of the pasta water to get the consistency you like.
- Season with coarsely ground black pepper and sprinkle generously with the Italian parsley.
- The heat from the pan and the pasta helps to cook the eggs.
- Short pasta such as the rigatoni makes it easier to toss with the sauce.
- This is a wonderful dish to serve to guests -- believe me there won't be any leftovers.
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