The spaghetti carbonara recipe is a traditional Italian pasta. Possibly one of the most popular recipes in Italian gastronomy and one of the most discussed as well.
It is a basic first course in terms of ingredients, common and easily available, but rich in flavour.
And the truth is, there’s a lot of confusion with this dish. The popular Italian recipe does not really have cream, despite the fact that it is usually bathed in liquid cream.
If the recipe you are interested in is Spaghetti carbonara with cream, clicking on the previous link will take you to the recipe for spaghetti with cream.
Here, now, we are going to see how to make Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe, the authentic original Italian cuisine.
How to make spaghetti carbonara recipe?
- Preparation time: 15-20 minutes.
- Difficulty: easy
- Servings: 4 persons
- Calories: 500/portion
From its controversial origin, the original Italian recipe for spaghetti carbonara uses fresh eggs, guanciale and grated pecorino cheese. However, it does not contain cream, bacon or mushrooms.
But as with all traditional Italian dishes, there are different variations of the carbonara sauce recipe, not always well received by purists. For example, carbonara pasta with cream, onion or bacon.
One thing is certain: the most common pasta format is spaghetti, although it is not uncommon to find excellent carbonara pasta dishes in which short pastas such as rigatoni or pennes are used.
If you are not sure about the different types of pasta there are, this link will help you to find out.
Ingredients of the spaghetti alla carbonara recipe for 4 people
The original Italian carbonara sauce has pecorino cheese, guanciale and egg yolk.
The ingredients we need to make a nice carbonara pasta dish are:
- 400 grams of spaghetti
- 150 grams of guanciale (or bacon)
- 100 grams of pecorino cheese
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- Ground black pepper
Preparation of the Spaghetti carbonara recipe step by step
We started this recipe by preparing the ingredients on the counter. We prepare a cutting board, a very sharp knife, a casserole, a frying pan and utensils such as a spoon and a wooden spatula.
1 Prepare the spaghetti
We put a pan big enough to hold plenty of water on the fire. When the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and let it cook for the time indicated on the package, which is usually around 8-10 minutes.
No need to add laurel or olive oil to the cooking water… just salt. But we salt the water in moderation, remembering that the guanciale is quite tasty and will give enough flavour to the dish.
It should also be noted that the traditional recipe for carbonara pasta is made with spaghetti. It’s not just any pasta. In fact, it is compulsory to use quality pasta. We already know how Italians are about pasta…
The ideal is to calculate the approximate time for the spaghetti to be cooked when the egg and pecorino cheese cream is ready and the guanciale is golden.
It is advisable to stir the spaghetti several times at the beginning to prevent it from sticking. And it is always important to remove the pasta when it is al dente.
When is the spaghetti “al dente”?
The best way to know if the spaghetti is al dente is to bite into it. When there is a small white spot left inside, that’s when the spaghetti is al dente.
When the spaghetti is done, we drain it but don’t throw away the cooking water. We reserve some of the cooking broth for later.
2 Preparation of the carbonara sauce
While the water is heating up and then cooking the pasta, we are preparing the carbonara sauce:
Put the yolks and the egg in a bowl and add the grated pecorino cheese. If no pecorino cheese is found, we can use a well-cured sheep’s cheese instead.
Now mix well, preferably using a fork or a whisk. Beat the eggs with the pecorino cheese until you get a good homogeneous cream. The rest of the cheese will be used to season the spaghetti dish when it has to be served.
Then add a little ground black pepper.
Ideally, freshly ground black pepper should be sprinkled generously. In fact, it is said that the name of this spaghetti carbonara recipe comes from the colour of the charcoal that provides this spice to the dish.
If necessary, a few spoonfuls of cooking water can be added to the pasta to make the egg-pecorino mixture creamy and fluid to the point where it does not dry out too much.
On the other hand, we cut the guanciale or pancetta into small cubes, and put a non-stick frying pan on the fire.
Pour the cubes of meat and let them brown over a moderate heat, stirring often. The heat should not be too high: the guanciale, in fact, should be crunchy but juicy, not burnt or dry.
It should release most of the fat in the pan so that the meat is well done.
When the guanciale is done, remove it and put the fat that has been released during frying back into the pan.
3 The final step of the spaghetti carbonara
Now it’s time to magic.
Now that the cooking water for the spaghetti is rich in starch, let’s add a couple of ladles of this water to the pan where the fat has been released from the meat. And we’ll start the fire again.
When the spaghetti is ready, we take it out of the casserole, drained, and put it in the frying pan with the water and the fat from the meat.
Stir the pasta well with the broth to mix the flavours. We are preparing the base of the carbonara sauce. If necessary, add more water, until you get the right proportion of broth and pasta.
Now remove the pan from the heat and leave it to rest for about 30 seconds, so that the spaghetti cools down slightly.
Now it’s time to add the egg sauce and cheese. The heat from the spaghetti will cook the carbonara sauce. Therefore, the spaghetti should ideally not be too hot or too cold.
If the pasta is too hot, the egg will cook too quickly and may end up looking like a spaghetti omelette.
On the other hand, if the pasta is too cold, you can end up eating a soup of cheese and egg.
Put the pan back on the heat, while stirring the pasta until you get a very creamy sauce. To make sure that the spaghetti absorbs the carbonara sauce, stir everything well.
This way the eggs will be cooked mixed with the other ingredients and become a smooth, lump-free cream. If it is not too creamy, you can add a few spoonfuls of water from the cooking of the pasta.
That’s when we added the taquitos de guanciale.
Now we serve immediately, sprinkling on each plate a little of the remaining pecorino cheese and some freshly ground black pepper.
This dish should be served hot and enjoyed immediately to better appreciate the creaminess of the eggs as well as the unique flavor of this recipe.
Spaghetti carbonara recipe to print
- 400 gr spaghetti
- 150 gr guanciale or bacon
- 100 gr pecorino cheese (sheep's cheese)
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- Ground black pepper
Preparation of spaghetti
- Put a pan of water on the boil and add a little salt. When it is boiling, add the spaghetti and let it cook for the time indicated on the package. Stir the pasta to prevent it from sticking.
Preparation of the carbonara sauce
- In a bowl put the yolks and the egg, and add the grated cheese. Mix everything well to get a homogeneous sauce.
- Cut the guanciale into small cubes and put them in a frying pan on the fire. Let them fry until all the fat is removed. When it is done, remove it from the heat, take out the meat and put the fat in the pan.
The union of all the ingredients
- Pour a couple of ladles of the cooking water from the spaghetti into the pan with the fat and put it back on the heat.
- When the spaghetti is al dente, drain it and put it in the pan with the broth. Stir the pasta well with the broth until it gains consistency, and remove it from the heat. Let it rest for 30 seconds and cool slightly.
- It is time to add the egg-cheese mixture to the pan with the spaghetti. Stir until you get a very creamy carbonara sauce. Finally, add the guanciale cubes and season with black pepper and grated cheese.
This is the authentic Italian dish of spaghetti carbonara.
Variants of Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
Each traditional recipe has a thousand variations, and so does the recipe for authentic carbonara. For example, we have the baked carbonara, where a final gratin in the oven is added to the original recipe. Although it is true that most of the different versions are characterized by the addition or substitution of some of the ingredients.
Let’s start with the spaghetti carbonara with cream, where the egg is accompanied or replaced by liquid cream. This is a refined, creamier version with a less pronounced touch of egg.
There are also different trends in cheese: for example, some people do not like the strong taste of sheep’s cheese, and use half or even all Parmesan cheese. For example, this recipe for Pennes with Chicken Carbonara uses Parmesan cheese.
There are also different opinions about the type of pasta used for carbonara. In addition to spaghetti and continuing with the long pasta, the recipe for carbonara noodles, foratini or fettuccine is very widespread, and they lend themselves very well to be seasoned with this rich and tasty cream.
Excellent short pastas are also used. In Rome it is common to serve rigatoni, and of course the delicious macaroni a la carbonara, which also has many supporters.
Regarding the use of meat, the guanciale, which is obtained from the dewlap of the pig, can be replaced by the pancetta, which is obtained from the fatty part of the belly, which must not be smoked or cured, and never and never cut by machine.
And changing the register, the carbonara pasta to the navy is super appetizing. It can be prepared, in turn, in numerous versions. The carbonara marina with mussels and clams, and the spaghetti carbonara with prawns are just two examples.
Finally, the vegetable carbonara pasta and the vegetarian carbonara, which makes most people wrinkle their nose, are very appreciated by those who have chosen to follow this type of diet.
Typical mistakes when preparing spaghetti carbonara
It is very common to make several mistakes when making this traditional Italian dish.
The first and foremost mistake in making authentic spaghetti carbonara is the belief that it contains cream, milk or mushrooms.
It is also very common to believe that they are made with bacon, when in fact guanciale is used. This is the jowl of the pig, and in Italy they use it cured so that when it is fried it is crispy on the outside and very juicy on the inside.
Also when preparing pasta, it is very common not to respect the indicated cooking times. Just follow the instructions on the pasta package to get a delicious al dente pasta.
There are also many people who insist on adding olive oil or laurel to the cooking water. The pasta is cooked in water with salt, nothing else.
Frequently asked questions when making the original carbonara recipe
How to keep the egg creamy
The secret is very simple, and has nothing to do with adding cream, which many combine for that purpose.
Fry the guanciale in a pan without adding more fat or, at most, only a teaspoon of oil, and season the pasta with the egg and cheese cream directly in the same pan where the guanciale has been previously cooked.
Once combined, just stir vigorously for one minute: you will see that the eggs tend to become creamy, but without generating the classic “lumps”.
How many eggs do I put in the spaghetti carbonara?
This is not a simple question. Some people use one egg for each person and others use one yolk each, plus one whole egg for every four people to ensure the right degree of creaminess.
If you want to make a sock and get a very creamy dish but not too heavy, you can choose two eggs and one egg yolk for every four people. The fact is that everyone can follow their own tastes by adding or decreasing the recommended dose at will.
And how many eggs do we put in for two people?
One egg and one yolk is the right point. And again, whole eggs or yolks? The secret of a perfect carbonara, creamy to the point, lies in the use of both.
A note. Not everyone likes to eat semi-raw eggs. There is nothing to stop you from changing the consistency of the cream, leaving it a little more in the pan so that it is well cooked.
Carbonara: with or without onions?
The original recipe does not want to use onions or garlic at all. Only black pepper is allowed, ideally crushed on the spot, to better appreciate the slightly spicy touch given to the dish.
What wine do we put to accompany the spaghetti carbonara?
The vaguely sweet taste of the carbonara pasta may make you wonder which wine is suitable to accompany the carbonara.
Choose a wine that is not as acidic as a Chardonnay or a Trento DOC.
How to reuse pasta carbonara
It happens to many of us that we prepare more carbonara paste than necessary. How can we use it so we don’t have to throw it away? Very simply, by recycling it into many delicious and creative recipes.
The first, and perhaps the most common, is to make a delicious carbonara pasta tortilla. Add a few eggs, 2 or 3, mix well the remaining spaghetti and egg and cook them in a pan with plenty of hot oil, on both sides and until they are completely browned. To make it even richer, if it is not rich enough, you can add a few cubes of cheese.
The carbonara spaghetti omelette can be baked in the oven, for an exceptional result suitable for serving something unusual for dinner. The baked carbonara you will get will test the most reluctant palates.
How about a pasta cake?
Line a baking sheet with dough, pierce the bottom and edges with a fork and fill with the dough. Pour a couple of beaten eggs with a little milk over it and spread it well. Bake in the oven at 180 °C for about 30 minutes and the dish is ready. The next day, as is often the case, it will be even better.
Curiosities about carbonara paste
This dish, as famous as it is appreciated abroad, probably owes its name to the addition of ground black pepper which, when combined, gives the pasta a black colour that looks like shredded coal.
Origin of spaghetti carbonara recipe
Spaghetti carbonara is a Roman recipe, certainly recent because it has only been known since the Second World War, but its origin is quite controversial, and there are at least three plausible theories.
Pasta dishes seasoned with products from sheep farming and agriculture, such as eggs and bacon, were common in the Abruzzo mountains, and displaced people discovered them and brought them to Rome at the end of the war.
A second hypothesis is that the Roman hosts, to feed the American soldiers, inspired by the idea that they ate eggs and bacon for breakfast, offered them pasta seasoned with these ingredients and, given the success, the recipe has spread.
The third hypothesis is that spaghetti carbonara has always been prepared in Roman inns. But only after the war did the recipe become known to the general public because it was included in printed cookbooks.
- How to make spaghetti carbonara recipe?
- Spaghetti carbonara recipe to print
- Variants of Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
- Typical mistakes when preparing spaghetti carbonara
- Frequently asked questions when making the original carbonara recipe
- Curiosities about carbonara paste
- Origin of spaghetti carbonara recipe
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