Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Though the Romans claim to have invented this astonishingly simple, mouth watering dish, some say spaghetti alla carbonara was developed by Umbrian charcoal burners. Others say it was invented as a way to use bacon and eggs bought on the black market from American service personnel during the Second World War. In any case, spaghetti alla carbonara is one of the few dishes in which bacon can be substituted for the pancetta or guanciale.

  • 1/4 pound (100 g) guanciale (see note), pancetta or bacon
  • 1/2 cup (25 g) grated Pecorino Romano
  • 4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream (optional; purists shudder at it)
  • Olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • A scant pound (400 g) of spaghetti

Set pasta water to boil. Meanwhile, dice the meat, sauté it in a tablespoon of oil till it’s well cooked, and drain the pieces on a paper towel. As soon as the water boils, salt it and add the pasta.

While the pasta’s cooking, lightly beat the yolks and one or two whites (just one white if you’re using the cream). As soon as the yolks and whites are combined, beat in the cheese, pinches of salt and pepper, and the cream, if you’re using it.

When the pasta’s done, drain it and transfer it immediately to a heated bowl. Add the pancetta and pour the egg mixture over the pasta, stirring briskly (the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs). Serve immediately.

Two Observations:

  • Given the risk of salmonella from commercially produced eggs, you may want to use dried eggs unless you buy from a trusted delicatessen or have access to true farm-fresh eggs. Unfortunately, I have no experience with egg substitutes.
  • Romans use guanciale, cured pig’s jowl, which is more delicate than pancetta, and also leaner. If you can find it, by all means use it. Otherwise, either pancetta or bacon will work well.

The wine? A white, from the Castelli Romani.

Yield: 4 servings Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

A slightly richer Mock Carbonara Sauce


Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Meat Sauces For Pasta, Recipes from Rome & Lazio, Cucina Romana e Laziale

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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