Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Staff Writer
Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Matthew Septimus

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

This pasta is from the region of Lazio, around Rome. Some sources believe the dish was developed at the end of World War II, when American soldiers stationed in Rome brought rations of eggs and bacon to Italian friends who turned them into this pasta sauce. Other sources suggest that it originated with coal miners (carbonari) in the region. It may be made with either pancetta or guanciale. Both are cured pork products: Pancetta is made from the pork belly, guanciale from pork jowl. Bacon (which, unlike guanciale, is smoked) is not commonly used in Italy. But it frequently appears in this dish in the United States. 

The pancetta or guanciale should be cooked just to render the fat but not until crisp. The egg yolks, which serve as a liaison to thicken the sauce, are whisked with cream, then cooked with the spaghetti — to ensure that the sauce is hot — but only briefly; exposure to heat will eventually scramble the eggs and ruin the smooth consistency of the sauce. (Cream is not traditional but it is often used because it prevents the eggs from scrambling.)

Click here to see 15 Easy 15-Minute Pasta Recipes.

4
Servings
284
Calories Per Serving
Deliver Ingredients

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 1/2  Ounces  pancetta, guanciale, or bacon, cut into 3/16-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the palm of the hand
  • 3  Tablespoons  olive oil
  • Pinch of  red chile pepper flakes
  • 5  Ounces  spaghetti
  • large eggs
  • large egg yolks
  • 2  Tablespoons  heavy cream (optional)
  • 1/4  Cup  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
  • 1/4  Cup  grated Pecorino Romano

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Combine the diced meat, garlic, and oil in a skillet and cook over medium heat. After 1 minute, add the red chile pepper flakes. Continue cooking until some of the fat is rendered but before the meat crisps, 3-5 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until slightly undercooked, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream, if using, and black pepper, to taste.

Drain the spaghetti, reserving about 2 cups of the pasta water, and add the spaghetti to the skillet. Add enough pasta water to the pan to bathe the spaghetti, and simmer until pasta is al dente and the water is reduced. Discard the garlic.

Transfer the spaghetti-bacon mixture to the bowl with the egg mixture. Add the cheeses and toss well to combine. Return the mixture to the skillet and toss over medium-low heat for 30-60 seconds to warm and slightly thicken the sauce; do not overcook or the egg will scramble. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot.

Nutritional Facts

Total Fat
20g
29%
Sugar
5g
6%
Saturated Fat
6g
25%
Cholesterol
5mg
2%
Carbohydrate, by difference
25g
19%
Protein
3g
7%
Vitamin A, RAE
16µg
2%
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
2mg
3%
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
9µg
10%
Calcium, Ca
23mg
2%
Choline, total
7mg
2%
Fiber, total dietary
1g
4%
Folate, total
23µg
6%
Iron, Fe
1mg
6%
Magnesium, Mg
33mg
10%
Manganese, Mn
1mg
56%
Niacin
1mg
7%
Phosphorus, P
81mg
12%
Selenium, Se
9µg
16%
Sodium, Na
141mg
9%
Water
55g
2%
Zinc, Zn
1mg
13%

Spaghetti Shopping Tip

Italian food is about simplicity and letting the ingredients shine. So make sure you get ingredients that are great quality and flavor. Farmers markets and specialty stores will have great produce and products. Just be sure to have some great olive oil.

Spaghetti Cooking Tip

Unlike other highly regarded cuisines, Italian cooking is usually simple to make with many dishes having only 4 to 8 ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation.

Spaghetti Wine Pairing

Cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, malbec, mourvèdre, Rhône blends, zinfandel, petite sirah, nero d'avola, primitivo, sangiovese, or carménère with meat- or tomato-based sauces; grenache or chardonnay with cream-based sauces; pinot gris/grigio, albariño, or other fresh white wines (for instance, soave, Italian sauvignon, or grillo) with seafood pasta; nebbiolo, dolcetto, or barbera with most non-seafood pasta.