This Roman dish was created in the middle of the 20th century using simple ingredients: pasta, eggs, pork jowls (think bacon) and cheese, typically Pecorino.
I’m all about simple pasta dishes, especially during the week, so this is one of my go-to recipes. I’ve made this decadent dish using a few variations, adding peas, morel mushrooms and shrimps…it’s delicious any ways. Note that garlic isn’t authentic to pasta carbonara, but it’s so darn tasty that I include it. Don’t like garlic – omit it! I used red pepper flakes too, which aren’t authentic either…sue me purists!
While the eggs do get warmed when tossed with the hot pasta, they aren’t fully cooked. If slightly cooked eggs aren’t your thing, this is likely not the dish for you. If you can get past that, you’ll get addicted, like I am, to the creamy “sauce” created by the eggs, pasta water and cheese.
- 1 pound good quality spaghetti, I use Delverde
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 8 ounces diced pancetta or slab bacon
- 1 large garlic clove, finely minced
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese, divided
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or black pepper if you prefer)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook 1 minute less than the cooking directions on the packaging recommend.
- While the pasta’s cooking, warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned, about three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Place the pancetta/garlic and the oil they cooked in, in a large, heat-proof bowl and set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, 1/2 cup of the cheese and pepper flakes. Whisk until well blended.
- When the pasta’s just al dente, scoop it out of the water using a pasta fork or tongs, and into the bowl with the pancetta – don’t drain the pasta water out of the pot! Toss the pasta until coated in the oil from the pancetta.
- Add the egg mixture to the pasta and toss quickly to ensure the eggs don’t scramble – you might need to give this method a couple tries to get it right – it’s worth it!
- Add ¼ cup of pasta cooking water to the pasta then the remaining cheese. Keep tossing to create a silky, creamy sauce that coats the pasta. Serve immediately.
Serves two for dinner or four as a starter.