Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe | Spaghetti with pancetta and eggs

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish known for its simplicity and rich, creamy flavor. Originating from Rome, it traditionally comprises spaghetti, pancetta or guanciale (cured pork), eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and sometimes garlic.

The exact origin of Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a bit uncertain and there's no definitive historical documentation pinpointing the exact moment or person responsible for inventing Spaghetti alla Carbonara. But it's widely believed to have originated in Rome, Italy. Its creation is often linked to the period after World War II when American soldiers stationed in Italy were introduced to this dish.

Italian word "carbone," means coal and it is believed that the name "Carbonara" has been derived from this Italian word. Some speculate that the dish could have been created by charcoal workers (carbonai) in Rome or by Italian cooks who used bacon and eggs, readily available ingredients, to create a dish for Allied troops.

Preparation of Spaghetti alla Carbonara involves cooking the pancetta until crispy, then combining it with cooked spaghetti. A mixture of eggs, grated cheese, and black pepper is swiftly added to the hot pasta, creating a creamy sauce that coats the noodles. The residual heat from the pasta cooks the eggs, resulting in a velvety texture without scrambling them.

The dish embodies the essence of Italian cuisine—few quality ingredients working harmoniously to create a flavorful and satisfying meal. Its simplicity has made it a beloved classic both in Italy and internationally, cherished for its indulgent yet straightforward preparation. Here's a classic recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara:

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara - Recipica

Ingredients of Spaghetti alla Carbonara:

  • 350g (12 oz) spaghetti
  • 150g (5 oz) pancetta or guanciale, diced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan), plus extra for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt (for Spaghetti water)
  • Olive oil (optional)

Instructions of Making Spaghetti alla Carbonara:

  • Take a large pot and put water in it. Add little salt to the water and bring the salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti as per instructions on the package  until al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water before draining the spaghetti.
  • While the Spaghetti cooks, in a separate skillet, cook the pancetta over medium heat until it becomes crispy and golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, grated cheese and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Set the mixture aside.
  • Once the Spaghetti is cooked, drain water from it and return it to the pot. While the Spaghetti is still hot, add the cooked pancetta (and its rendered fat) to the pot and toss to combine.
  • Working quickly, pour the egg and cheese mixture over the hot Spaghetti and toss vigorously to coat the Spaghetti evenly. The heat from the Spaghetti will cook the eggs and it will create a creamy sauce. If needed, add a splash of the reserved pasta water gradually to loosen the sauce if it's too thick.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, adding more cheese or black pepper to suit your preference.
Serving of Spaghetti alla Carbonara: 
  • Serve the Spaghetti alla Carbonara immediately, garnished with extra grated cheese and a bit more black pepper on top.
Note: Some variations of this recipe may include a drizzle of olive oil in the Spaghetti water or a small amount added to the sauce at the end, but it's optional and not present in the traditional Roman version.

Recipe Card
Cuisine: Italian, Course: Dinner, Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 10 minutes, Total Time: 25 minutes, Serving: 4

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