Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Staff Writer
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Matthew Septimus

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Watch This Recipe Video

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.

Ready in
15 m
4
Servings
453
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)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the palm of the hand
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of red chile pepper flakes
  • 5 Ounces spaghetti
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 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.

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.

Nutritional Facts

Total Fat
29g
45%
Sugar
1g
N/A
Saturated Fat
9g
45%
Cholesterol
215mg
72%
Protein
18g
35%
Carbs
29g
10%
Vitamin A
98µg
11%
Vitamin B12
0.7µg
11.5%
Vitamin B6
0.2mg
12%
Vitamin C
1mg
2%
Vitamin D
1µg
N/A
Vitamin E
2mg
11%
Vitamin K
7µg
9%
Calcium
212mg
21%
Fiber
1g
5%
Folate (food)
32µg
N/A
Folate equivalent (total)
32µg
8%
Iron
1mg
8%
Magnesium
33mg
8%
Monounsaturated
15g
N/A
Niacin (B3)
2mg
8%
Phosphorus
302mg
43%
Polyunsaturated
4g
N/A
Potassium
203mg
6%
Riboflavin (B2)
0.3mg
15.2%
Sodium
422mg
18%
Thiamin (B1)
0.1mg
9.2%
Zinc
2mg
12%