Spaghetti alla Carbonara

30 minutes
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  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x

Ingredients

  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 6 ounces guanciale (or pancetta), diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti

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Instructions

  1. Cut the pancetta into 1/2 inch strips or cubes.
  2. In a bowl, combine the beaten eggs, yolks, and grated pecorino. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the guanciale until golden – careful not to overcook it. Remove the skillet from heat.*
  5. Cook the pasta until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package directions), drain and add it to the guanciale. When thoroughly combined, quickly add the pasta to the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture. Serve immediately, with a few grinds of black pepper and some grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Notes

In Rome, guanciale is the meat of choice, but I sometimes prefer the less fatty pancetta. Carbonara can be tricky. The result should be creamy. If the pasta is added too quickly or too hot when you add it to the eggs, they may scramble. Try it until you get in right.

Ed's Review

Sometimes it’s easier to have just a few choices rather than too many. This notion is so simple, and perhaps a bit bourgeois. But the intersection of freedom and rules can be tricky, especially in the kitchen, where you eat your bad judgment, literally. Along these lines, take spaghetti alla carbonara, a simple mixture of bacon, egg, spaghetti, and cheese that is so often over thought and overwrought.

I’m going to be specific here, but give you some wiggle room within the constraints. (This, even though a chef in Rome recently told me that the only correct way to prepare the dish is per the recipe provided below.) Your first choice is between pancetta (pork belly) and guanciale (pork jowl). Guanciale has a more intense flavor, but is fattier. Next, choose between whole eggs or just the yolks.  Last, for cheese, will you go with the sharper Pecorino Romano (correct) or Parmigiano-Reggiano (acceptable)?  Within these boundaries, just play around with the ingredients and quantities you like. The only sin you can commit is to add cream (as most all Italian-American restaurants do). So experiment away. Go crazy. And if you wish to stray altogether feel free. Just don’t call it carbonara.

Buon Appetito!
Ed Garrubbo, Editor

6 thoughts on “Spaghetti alla Carbonara”

  1. My absolute favorite. First had it in Rome when my cousin made it for dinner one night after a day of touring and we were all tired. Been making it ever since. Authentic, just like yours – except for the two types of eggs and used pancetta.

    I had it with guanciale for the very first time the other night and was very surprised at how fatty it was with almost no lean part. Is that usual? It was very good, but could not eat much of the guanciale part. Much prefer it with pancetta where it is “meatier”.

    Reply
    • Yes. I find it too fatty, so I actually prefer the pancetta! You can trim it down, but that becomes wasteful. Grazie. Ed

      Reply
      • Hi Ed,

        I mixed this carbonara with a Welschriesling from Hungary /Csetvei Winery, Mór/ 2015. It was a brilliantly pair.
        Thanks for a recipe,

        Best:
        Dezso from Hungary

        Reply
  2. Wow! This is a great recipe. It brings back memories of when Ale & Bene came from Italy to live with us. They made this dish for us…..very Italian. Thanks for the memory! Aunt Linda

    Reply
  3. My search for guanciale starts tomorrow……I agree that brown eggs are richer than those XL supermarket white ones

    Reply
  4. I lived in Naples (sigh!) for several years and went regularly to a restaurant (now gone) on Posillipo where I never got past the Carbonara on their menu. It was wonderful, but they did add cream, so I’m curious — what should they have called it? Trust me, it was killer.

    Reply

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