Pasta alla Carbonara Recipe

by Jessica on March 4, 2009

by | March 4th, 2009  

Spaghetti carbornara might be one of my favorite pasta dishes ever – anything combining cheese and pork gets my vote – but I’ve never actually made it. So I’m thrilled that Robin of My Melange has contributed her easy pasta carbonara recipe to my Italian recipe box! I think I’ll have no more excuses not to make this one at home.

One of my all time favorite classic Italian dishes, Pasta Carbonara, is possibly the easiest to make. Every bite is a creamy, salty, cheesy, bacon-y explosion in your mouth!

It is thought that Pasta Carbonara was created on the outskirts of Rome as a result of the American influence from World War II. American soldiers would make bacon and eggs for breakfast and the Italians ran with it and added it to pasta.

A kind of breakfast pasta, if you will. Those Italians are a clever bunch, no?

This recipe has become very Americanized over the years. You’ll often see things like cream, peas, onions, and even wine added to the dish. And while those additions might be delicious, authentic Italian they’re not.

The classic recipe calls for very few ingredients. Eggs, pancetta, cheese and a long, tubular pasta – such as spaghetti, linguini or bucatini.

And because there are so few ingredients, the key to success is using the best quality you can find and afford. Please – no pre-packaged shredded cheese here!

Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta in Carbonara Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tubular pasta (spaghetti, linguine, bucatini)
  • 4 ounces Italian pancetta, cubed
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 large eggs, preferably organic or free-range, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese, freshly grated
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  • Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
  • While the water is boiling, add oil, pancetta and garlic to a skillet over med-high heat. Saute and turn occasionally to make sure pancetta does not stick. When pancetta is browned, remove and discard the garlic, turn heat down and keep warm until needed.
  • When water boils, add pasta and cook until al dente.
  • Lightly beat the eggs and the cheese in the bottom of your serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  • When the pasta is done, drain well and add it to the skillet with the pancetta and toss.
  • Transfer the pasta to the serving bowl with the eggs immediately and toss. The heat of the pasta and oil will “cook” the eggs.
  • Season with more freshly ground black pepper and serve with some additional cheese on top.

What could be better than that? Well, maybe devouring the real deal in a Roman Trattoria. Yeah, well, there’s always that!

Buon Appetito!

original photos: recipe box by brighterworlds on Flickr, pasta by Robin Locker (and may not be used without permission)


Robin is a freelance writer and European travel consultant specializing in France and Italy. Her passion for European culture and lifestyle is featured in her blog, My Mélange, which includes travel essays, photos, restaurant and hotel recommendations, struggles with learning the Italian language, and ideas on how to live La Dolce Vita from abroad. Travel Tip Tuesday is one of My Melange’s most popular features, offering readers ways to save time and money and to avoid stress while traveling.

Robin lives in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley with her boyfriend of 12 years and their adorable Westie, Madison. She hopes to add “expat” to her bio within the next few years, when she finally realizes her dream of living in Italy.

{ 7 comments }

anne August 18, 2009 at 4:31 am
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hi Jessica, I just came across this post, I cannot believe you have never made this delightful dish..we eat it quite a bit here, Love it!

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Lola August 31, 2009 at 7:05 am
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Ciao!
My name is Lola, I am an Italian home cook, blogger and food fetishist.
Just as a small side note to Robin’s post about Carbonara, allow me please to make a few corrections. The name of this dish literally means “in the manner of the charcoal miner”. The title Carbonari refers to 19th century freedom fighters called charcoal burners, associated perhaps to their camouflage black face paint. The secret revolutionary society’s goals were patriotic and liberal and they played an key role in the Risorgimento and the early years of Italian nationalism.
Scholars believe that the dish was once popular with these fugitives who lived in the mountains near Rome because the ingredients were easily portable and cooking was fairly uncomplicated. Carbonara is in fact much older than WWII, when luxury foods such as eggs and pork were not accessible in Italy.
If you want to stay true to the Roman heritage of the dish, know that the recipe employs smoked pancetta, which is bacon – and should never include garlic.

Regardless, thanks for posting about traditional Italian food!
Ciao,
~Lola

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d. sullian January 4, 2010 at 1:12 pm
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thanks for the recipes iI was interested in the lemoncello,but don’t like the idea of putting sugar water, I tried that before and it tasted watered down.
I’m going to try it with clear rock candy. I used to make apricot brandy and it was great. I’ll let you know how it turns out
d. sullivan

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john March 17, 2010 at 6:11 am
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Pasta alla Carbonara
Pasta in Carbonara Sauce

Ingredients

■1 pound tubular pasta (spaghetti, linguine, bucatini)
■4 ounces Italian pancetta, cubed
■2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
■2 garlic cloves, crushed
■4 large eggs, preferably organic or free-range, room temperature
■1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
■1/4 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese, freshly grated
■salt and pepper

Directions

■Put a pot of salted water on to boil.
■While the water is boiling, add oil, pancetta and garlic to a skillet over med-high heat. Saute and turn occasionally to make sure pancetta does not stick. When pancetta is browned, remove and discard the garlic, turn heat down and keep warm until needed.
■When water boils, add pasta and cook until al dente.
■Lightly beat the eggs and the cheese in the bottom of your serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
■When the pasta is done, drain well and add it to the skillet with the pancetta and toss.
■Transfer the pasta to the serving bowl with the eggs immediately and toss. The heat of the pasta and oil will “cook” the eggs.
■Season with more freshly ground black pepper and serve with some additional cheese on top.

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Anita Weedon March 21, 2010 at 8:04 am
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We have just returned from Rome and their carbonara is truly wonderful. As Lola says – no garlic and the egg, with the help of the two cheeses, magically coats the delicate strands. Mmmmm….
I use a good (not too fatty) streaky bacon at home in South Africa (imports just too expensive with the Rand as low as it is at the moment} and it works very well. The secret is in the temperature used to cook the egg/cheese mixture. Haven’t tried this method of using the redisual heat of pasta/bacon to do the work, but am en route to the kithen now to try it out.
Italy we love you…
Anita

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hannah January 24, 2013 at 1:22 am
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i think it will be so delicios

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hannah January 24, 2013 at 1:31 am
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where we can get a ounces itallian pacetta

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