My Recipe for Pasta alla Carbonara

Last night I made a delicious and easy dish…pasta alla carbonara.  This dish is said to have originated around Rome after the Second World War.  There are many legends why the dish is called carbonara, such as it was made by charcoal workers in Italy.  There are five main ingredients in a traditional carbonara: eggs, cheese (pecorino, parmigiano or half and half), freshly cracked black pepper, pancetta or guanciale and the pasta (spaghetti, fettucine, linguine, etc.).

Contrary to popular belief and what you find served in many Italian-American restaurants, a traditional carbonara does not have peas or heavy cream.  Romans take great pride in preparing this dish in its true for.  However, there is a possibility of finding zucchini flowers (when in season) in a carbonara in the restaurants throughout Rome.

This is a great dish to make if you’re a busy professional or to impress your friends with at your next dinner party.  It’s approximately 40 minutes from preparation to table.  So here is my recipe for Pasta alla Carbonara.  Enjoy!

Pasta alla Carbonara
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz. pancetta or guanciale (I wouldn’t recommend bacon.  Use it if it’s the only thing you have.)
  • 5 eggs (preferably cage free)
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • Freshly cracked black pepper (The pepper should be cracked to your taste.  Traditionally, a copious amount of pepper is added)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound dried pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettucine)
  • This is the pasta I like to use

    Preparation:

    1.)Put a large pot of water on the stove and turn the heat to high.
    2.) Dice the pancetta into cubes about ½ x ½.  Heat a large skillet.  Add the pancetta to the skillet.  The pancetta will render its fat.  Cook the pancetta until it starts to firm up.  Don’t let it get too crispy.  Pour off all but about a teaspoon of the fat.  Set the skillet aside for now.

    The pancetta rendering is its fat

    3.) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs together.  To the eggs, add the Parmigiano, Pecorino, the ground pepper & extra virgin olive oil.

    The eggs, cheese, black pepper and oil are whisked together

    4.) Add about 4 tablespoons of sea salt to the boiling water.  Then add your pasta.  Cook the pasta a little short of the recommended cooking time.
    5.) Put the skillet with the pancetta back on the heat.  Once the pasta is ready start adding it with tongs to the skillet.  Shake the skillet so you dislodge any of the pancetta bits that are stuck to the bottom of it.  Once all of the pasta is added to the skillet, take it off of the heat.  Add the egg, cheese and pepper mixture to the pasta.  Stir so that the mixture is fully incorporated with the pasta.  If the pasta is too dry add half a ladle full of the pasta water to the skillet.
    6.) Serve the pasta in bowls with grated cheese and still more freshly cracked black pepper.

    Note: The eggs should not be scrambled.  The heat from the hot pasta should cook the eggs, but there is a chance that some of the egg will not cook through.  So it is my advice to you to not serve this dish to anyone with a compromised immune system, namely children and the elderly.

    Living to eat,
    Tony Mangia

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    5 thoughts on “My Recipe for Pasta alla Carbonara

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