If you have spaghetti, bacon, eggs and Parmesan cheese hanging around, then you’re already set up to make one of the most delicious pasta dishes you’d order out at a restaurant right in your own kitchen.
A traditional Roman pasta dish, spaghetti carbonara makes great use of staples that are usually already on hand, and it all comes together quickly.
“It may have a fancy name, but it’s literally just pasta, Parmesan cheese and eggs, and bacon,” Jason Goldstein, a recipe developer, food blogger and “Food Network Star” finalist based out of New York told The Daily Meal. “And that is all it is.”
To make traditional carbonara, Goldstein cooks a pound of spaghetti and reserves a quarter cup of the starchy pasta water. He then fries bacon, pancetta or guanciale (cured pork jowl) over low heat in a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a Dutch oven for several minutes. While the fat renders, he combines three eggs, a cup of grated Parmesan cheese and a teaspoon of black pepper in a bowl.
He adds the spaghetti to the pan and stirs until coated in fat before shutting off the heat and adding in the egg mixture along with the reserved pasta water. Stirring it all together for about a minute creates a rich and creamy sauce with no cream required. After being plated it can be topped off with even more Parmesan.
Even though purists insist on sticking with just those core ingredients, there’s plenty of room to customize it to your personal taste. You can add onion, shallots and/or garlic to the pork as it renders, and some recipes also call for peas. Carbonara is a recipe that every home cook should have in their arsenal, as it’s just one of many easy ways to put a home-cooked meal on the table.
1 pound Spaghetti
1/2 pound bacon, pancetta or guanciale
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon pepper
Cook pasta to package instructions. Save 1/4 cup pasta water.
On low heat, fry bacon with extra virgin olive oil for about 2 minutes.
While the bacon cooks, mix eggs, Parmesan and pepper in a bowl.
Now add cooked pasta to the hot bacon oil.
Shut off the heat, pour in cheese mixture and reserved pasta water. Mix quickly to combine and prevent eggs from scrambling for about 45 seconds.
Top with more Parmesan and enjoy.