How many times have you stood staring into your refrigerator wondering what to make for dinner? If you have, you certainly aren’t alone and Spaghetti Carbonara might be the answer as it only takes a few simple ingredients. If you’ve got fresh eggs, bacon or pancetta, pecorino Romano or other hard Italian grating cheese and spaghetti then you can prepare this delicious, creamy pasta dish and have it sitting on your dinner table in under thirty minutes.
In Italy, Rome in particular, this dish is traditionally made with guanciale, which is a pork cheek cured with salt and pepper, or pancetta which is similar to our bacon but is unsmoked. If you have guanciale or pancetta, by all means use it but bacon is what most of us will have in our refrigerator and works well in this recipe. You can also use another kind of pasta other than spaghetti and if you are not worried about authenticity, you might like adding ingredients such as onions or peas to the dish. There are also versions that add cream to the recipe but I don’t believe it is necessary as the eggs create a rich and creamy tasting sauce on their own.
Recipe serves 2 generously, adjust accordingly.
- 3 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
- 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks* While the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, if you feel more comfortable, you can use pasteurized eggs in this recipe
- salt, garlic powder and onion powder, about 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. each and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 c. grated pecorino Romano cheese, more at the time of serving
- 8 oz. spaghetti, more or less, depending on if this will be a first or main course
Place the chopped bacon in a large sauté pan and cook until browned and crisp, then set the pan aside.
While bacon is cooking, beat the eggs in a small bowl with a sprinkling of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and the cheese then set aside.
In the meantime, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water, according to package directions, until it is al dente. Reserve about a 1/2 cup of the cooking water then drain the pasta. Add the spaghetti to the sauté pan with the bacon and bacon fat then return to the heat. Toss well to coat everything then remove the pan from the heat.
Once the pan is off the heat and slightly cooled, add the egg mixture to the pasta and toss very quickly and continuously. The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs and create a smooth and creamy sauce. Just remember to toss well as you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs. If the pasta looks a little dry, add some of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to loosen the sauce. Taste for seasoning, you might need to add additional cheese or salt.
Place the spaghetti into individual warm serving bowls or plates. You can garnish the dish with a little chopped parsley for color and add an additional sprinkling of cheese and a grating of black pepper, if you wish. This is one dish that needs to be served immediately.
Note: This meal comes together very quickly, so make sure that your table is set and any sides that you might be serving with the pasta are ready and waiting to go to the table.
Now as easy as this recipe is to prepare, I have to say that I don’t make it…my husband makes this for us. This pasta dish was originally introduced to his family when to his mother and father had dinner at a friend’s home and my husband’s father feel in love with spaghetti carbonara.
On one of those evenings when I was staring into the refrigerator wondering what to cook, my husband quickly stepped up and said no problem, “I’m cooking dinner tonight and it is a surprise”. And as they say, the rest is history. Sometimes the simplest of ingredients, the ones that are not only inexpensive for most of us but that we usually have in our kitchens, can be turned into a delicious and satisfying meal. I hope you will give one of my husband’s specialties a try, I believe you will enjoy spaghetti carbonara as much as I do. Buon Appetito!