Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti pasta alla carbonara. Luscious and wonderfully indulgent, it takes as long to make as it does to cook the spaghetti. The ingredients are simple, just spaghetti (or other long pasta), pancetta or bacon, eggs, Parm, a little olive oil, salt and pepper. A silky sauce is created when the beaten eggs are tossed with the hot pasta and a little fat from the pancetta or bacon.

Did I already mention indulgent? Yes, this is not a make-it-everyday recipe. This is a I’ve-been-eating-my-kale-for-weeks-and-now-I-want-to-splurge recipe. But heck, if you are going to splurge, you may as well do it right.

By the way, for those of you who must eat gluten-free, I’ve found an excellent gluten-free pasta that works well with this recipe. Look for the bionaturae brand. I’ve found it at Whole Foods.

  • Prep: 10 minutes
  • Cook: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

This recipe uses raw eggs, which are essentially cooked by tossing with hot pasta. They are not cooked to the point of scrambled though, just enough to thicken the eggs into a sauce.

The garlic is optional. It is not traditionally included in spaghetti alla carbonara, but I like the addition of it, so it's in my version. By the way, traditionally "guanciale", or pork jowl, is used in this dish, so if you can get it, by all means use it.

Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta from the pot so that some of the pasta water goes into the dish to help make the sauce creamy. Either that or reserve some of the pasta cooking water and add some back in at the end to help keep the pasta for getting too dry.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound pancetta or thick cut bacon, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced, about 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • 3-4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta (or bucatini or fettuccine)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

1 Put a large pot of salted water on to boil (1 Tbsp salt for every 2 quarts of water.)

2 While the water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook slowly until crispy. Add the garlic (if using) and cook another minute, then turn off the heat and put the pancetta and garlic into a large bowl.

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3 In a small bowl, beat the eggs and mix in about half of the cheese.

4 Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the pasta, and cook, uncovered, at a rolling boil. When the pasta is al dente (still a little firm, not mushy), use tongs to move it to the bowl with the bacon and garlic. Move the pasta from the pot to the bowl quickly, as you want the pasta to be hot. It's the heat of the pasta that will heat the eggs sufficiently to create a creamy sauce.

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Toss everything to combine, then add the beaten eggs with cheese and toss quickly to combine once more. Add salt to taste.

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Serve at once with the rest of the parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

If you want, sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley.

Links:

Spaghetti carbonara for beginners from Adam the Amateur Gourmet

Cooking with Pastor Ryan: Pasta Carbonara from The Pioneer Woman

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