Basic Spaghetti Carbonara
3I feel like there’s always gotta be a disclaimer when you’re not Italian and you make a classic Italian dish. So here’s my disclaimer: I am not claiming this is the authentic, traditional way to make carbonara! I am sharing how I make it!!!
I absolutely adore carbonara. It’s simple, elegant and decadent. Lots of people know carbonara to be a creamy pasta, but lets establish right now that there’s actually no cream involved in carbonara!! If you post a photo of a cream based pasta and call it carbonara, someone’s Italian family member is going to put you on their hit list. I’m sort of kidding.
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Anyway, let’s talk about carbonaraaaa. AKA “bacon, egg and cheese” pasta. That creaminess that I mentioned above? That’s caused by eggs and cheese being whipped together with starchy pasta water. The result is silky, creamy and even kind of custardy.
Do I actually use bacon?
The traditional meat to use in carbonara is guanciale, which is pork jowl (cheek.) You can probably find this at the butcher, but if you don’t have a butcher close by and you don’t have a car, feel free to swap this for pancetta or bacon!
What cheese should I use?
From what I’ve seen, it’s usually Parmesan or a blend of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano. I personally like just Parmesan and I like my Pecorino for my Cacio e Pepe.
Do I have to use spaghetti?
Spaghetti is the traditional pasta used in carbonara, but use whatever pasta YOU like or have in your home!! No one is going to judge you…unless you post a photo or video online, then you’ll end up on the Hitlist I mentioned earlier.
Making a sauce with raw eggs scares me…what should I do?!?!
I recommend using the highest quality eggs here and if you are extremely nervous, feel free to pasteurize your eggs as well! Google is a beautiful place and I am sure you can find tutorials so that you *know* you are safe.
Basic Spaghetti Carbonara
- Stock pot
- 1/2 lb. Spaghetti
- 4 oz. guanciale, pancetta or bacon coarsley chopped into even sized pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2/3 cup Parmesan
- Bring a stock pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add a little bit of salt to the water - about 2 tsp or so.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolk, Parmesan and fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Set the bowl aside.
- Heat a large skillet on high heat. Add pancetta (or the sub of your choice) to the pan and cook until the fat renders and the meat is lightly crisp. Keep the pancetta in the pan and remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook until just before al dente, 1-2 minutes before the box instructions.
- Transfer the pasta to the pan with pancetta/pancetta fat. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and quickly toss everything together, using a rubber spatula or a utensil that will delicately handle the pasta. If you want the sauce to be more "saucy" and less glossy/sticky, add a little bit of pasta water to the pan and toss with your pasta. If you want the sauce to be stickier, turn the heat on low and continue tossing the pasta in the sauce until it adheres to the pasta.
- Serve immediately and top with a fresh grating of Parmesan cheese and a fresh crack of black pepper.