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There may be no more beloved Italian dish than carbonara: hot pasta tossed with a creamy sauce of beaten eggs, accentuated with crisp bits of guanciale, and finished with a shower of grated aged Pecorino Romano cheese plus freshly ground black pepper.
It’s such a quick and filling meal, yet so easy! Ready on the table in less than 30 minutes!
Carbonara is famously flavourful, indulgent and delicious. Learn how to create this mouth-watering dinner made the Italian way!
Spaghetti Carbonara is one of the most famous Pasta Recipes of Italian Cuisine. What distinguishes carbonara from other pasta dishes is its technique of combining eggs, hard cheese, cured pork, and black pepper into a rich, silky sauce.
In the authentic Italian recipe, the ingredients are very few, and the high quality of the ingredients is a necessary condition for the success of the carbonara recipe.
There are many many stories and Pasta Carbonara variants, even in Italy, but they are variations of the authentic recipe. Despite many beliefs, the ingredients of the traditional recipe of spaghetti alla carbonara are only 5: guanciale, pecorino Romano, eggs, pepper and spaghetti. The result is a creamy and tasty pasta sauce that will have you licking your plate clean and looking for seconds.
The traditional recipe does NOT USE garlic, onions, butter, olive oil, herbs, parsley, onion, cream, milk, peas, or mushrooms. If you want to keep your pasta dish authentic, don’t add them.
If you want an authentic carbonara, don’t add anything else to the list of ingredients.
It is pretty simple to make a ‘creamy’ carbonara without using any cream. The only difficulty is to make sure that the eggs do not cook so much to look like scrambled eggs or too little to be raw and cold.
The crucial moment in making carbonara is at the very end after the pork is cooked and the pasta boiled. This is when you need to pay attention because you’re adding raw eggs to a hot pasta in a hot pan, and you don’t want to scramble the eggs. Your final sauce should have the consistency of a thin custard that coats the spaghetti. Luckily, it’s easy to achieve this smooth texture with just a few simple steps. Follow my guide with the Tricks to make authentic Italian pasta alla carbonara.
Many thanks to my daughter, Stephannie Abreu, for inspiring the recipe.
And how about making this meringue flan with the egg white leftover?
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- 6 Egg yolk - about 1.5 per person
- 1 Egg - 1 whole egg per 4 people
- 120 g Pecorino Romano cheese - 1 cup or more to taste
- Black pepper - freshly grounded to taste
- 1 pinch Salt
- 350 g Spaghetti - dry
- 100 g Guanciale - or more to taste
- Pecorino Romano cheese
- Black pepper - freshly grounded to taste
Boil the water for the pasta while you prepare the egg mixture
- Boil water in a large pot on high heat. Salt it when it is warm.
- Note: Don't fill the pot up with too much water - try and keep the water nice and shallow, so it's as starchy as possible, meaning it makes the carbonara nice and creamy!
Prepare the egg mix
- Separate the yolks.
- Add whole eggs and egg yolks to a bowl.
- Beat with a fork until completely smooth, and the eggs drip neatly through the fork.
- Note: Make sure you fully beat the eggs, so there are no gloopy bits and finely grate the cheese. You want the egg mixture as smooth as possible, so it easily forms into a sauce without clumping.
- Stir in pecorino cheese and a good few pinches of black pepper.
- Beat again until fully blended and you obtain a nice cream.
- Note: Pecorino Romano is a very salty and tasty Italian cheese, so there’s no need to add salt with the eggs.
- Place to one side, away from direct heat, just so the eggs don’t begin to cook.
Cook the guanciale
- Cut the guanciale into small pieces (cubes or slices, as you prefer), then simmer in a frying pan for about 2 or 3 minutes.
- First, let the fat melt at low heat, then at medium heat to make it crispy.
- Stir occasionally so that it cooks evenly. The more the guanciale cooks, the more its fats melt, and its meat becomes crunchy.
- Fry until nice and crispy, with the fat, fully rendered.
- Note: The cooking level is up to you, according to your tastes. Some love well-cooked guanciale, while others prefer it soft.
Cook the spaghetti
- Note: The water should now be boiling, and you can cook the spaghetti. If you have chosen a rather large pot, the spaghetti should fit comfortably without breaking them. The best way to cook spaghetti without breaking them is to hold them in a bunch vertically and immerse.
- Pop your spaghetti in heavily salted boiling water and cook until al dente (a teeny bit hard).
- Note: It’s essential that you only cook the spaghetti until it’s al dente. You’ll be tossing the spaghetti in the pan quite a bit, and if it’s too soft, it will just break into lots of small strands.
- A minute before the pasta is done, drain it.
- Note: Reserve some starchy pasta water for later.
Prepare the carbonara
- Important: We have reached the crucial moment of spaghetti carbonara. Not to put tension on it, but this is the fleeting moment in which you can make an immortal dish or one that will be a real failure. So now you have to be quick, ready and ruthless.
- When the guanciale is sizzling in the pan, TURN OFF THE HEAT. Otherwise, the eggs cook too much, and you’ll find yourself with scrambled eggs and spaghetti! If you have an electric stovetop, take the pan off the heat completely.
- Note: Wait a minute or so for the oil to stop sizzling before adding the spaghetti. If the pan is too hot, the eggs will scramble.
- Add spaghetti to the pan and immediately toss through the Guanciale melted fat.
- Toss with a splash (about half cup) of starchy pasta water and continue tossing until the spaghetti goes nice and glossy.
- The frying pan is warm but not hot so that the eggs will cook without lumps.
- Pour in egg mixture on top of the spaghetti and quickly continue to toss until glossy, slightly creamy and fully blended.
- Note: It's important to work fast, or the egg will begin to cook and scramble.
- If the spaghetti starts to dry out, add another splash of starchy pasta water.
- The leftover heat from the pan and the spaghetti will gently cook the eggs, but not so much they scramble.
- You're looking for a glossy, ever-so-slightly saucy and creamy texture.
- Add some grated pecorino if you notice that your spaghetti carbonara is too liquid. Pay attention to the consistency, which must be creamy but not fluid. On the other hand, if you see that they are too sticky and dense, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the starchy pasta water.
- Taste to see if your pasta needs additional salt. Depending on the type of meat and cheese you end up using, it may already be salty enough—otherwise, season with high-quality Italian sea salt flakes.
- With the help of a ladle and a fork, create a pasta nest and place it on warm plates.
- Add guanciale (left in the pan), freshly grounded black pepper and plenty of grated pecorino Romano cheese and serve immediately.
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Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.Share on Facebook
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