Let’s get the most important thing out of the way first. Carbonara does not, I repeat, does not have any cream in it. Many restaurants in North America have bastardized carbonara into some sort of gloopy, creamy mess, confusing the public into thinking carbonara is something much different than it truly is.
If this has been your understanding of carbonara, it is my pleasure to tell you that you have been missing out on one of the most delicious and simple dishes created by the Italians. Authentic carbonara is made with only egg, a hard cheese such as parmigiano reggiano, Italian bacon and pepper. When these ingredients are carefully mixed together the result is a luxuriously silky sauce that coats your pasta. The real challenge of a carbonara, however, is gently cooking and not scrambling the eggs.
- 1 pound dried spaghetti
- 1/2 cup chopped pancetta (bacon or guanciale can also be used)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 whole large eggs + 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the olive oil to a large frying pan and cook pancetta until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crispy.
- In large metal, heat-proof mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, parmigiano reggiano and pepper.
- Once the pasta is cooked add it to the frying pan with the pancetta. Do not drain the boiling pasta water.
- Mix the pasta and and pancetta together, allowing it to cool slightly. About 5 minutes or so.
- Scrape the pasta mixture, along with all of the fat, and 1/2 a cup of the starchy pasta water into the egg mixture. Place the bowl over the boiling pasta water and cook, stirring vigorously until the sauce thickens. It should thicken to a silky, creamy consistency that coats the spaghetti.
- Serve immediately and top with more grated cheese if desired.
Once you get the hang of it, authentic spaghetti carbonara comes together very quickly and is insanely delicious. It’s a great dish to impress your friends and family with, as it tastes so good it seems like it must be a lot more complicated than it really is.