What I’m about to introduce to you today is Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe, made with 4 simple ingredients: guanciale, eggs, pecorino and spaghetti. In the traditional recipe for spaghetti carbonara, you need no other ingredients; so DO NOT use garlic, parsley, onion, cream, milk or parmigiano Reggiano. If you read this recipe thoroughly, you will see that there are many Spaghetti Carbonara variants, also here in Italy, but they are…variants of the authentic recipe. Which is very simple and fast to make. The only difficulty is to make sure that the eggs do not cook so much to look like an omelette or too little to be raw and cold. There are a few tricks to make a perfect carbonara and now I’ll let you know.
First of all: guanciale or bacon?
Spaghetti Carbonara is one of the most famous Pasta Recipes of Roman Cuisine. It’s a simple pasta dish, whose original recipe use, as ingredients, eggs, guanciale (an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Its name is derived from guancia, Italian for cheek, sometimes translated with pork cheek lard or jowl bacon) and grated pecorino romano. Many people use bacon instead of guanciale, sometimes because it’s easier to find bacon on the market than guanciale, but more often they use bacon because guanciale is a more fatty meat. I think bacon is a great alternative anyway.
Pecorino Romano o Parmigiano Reggiano?
Spaghetti carbonara original recipe is an Italian recipe whose origins are in Lazio. So we use pecorino romano because it’s a cheese born in Lazio, while Parmigiano reggiano belongs to another region: Emilia Romagna.
As with all the dishes of traditional Italian cuisine, there are several variations to the Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe. At the bottom of this recipe you will find some of these variants: what to add and what to remove from the traditional ingredients and why.
Spaghetti Carbonara Original Recipe
- 350 g (12 oz) of spaghetti
- 200 g (7 oz) of guanciale
- 4 whole eggs (1 egg each yeld)
- 100 g (3,50 oz) of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- ground black pepper
Cut the guanciale into small pieces, then cook them in a frying pan with the extra vigin olive oil, over medium heat, being careful not to roast them too much (1). Meanwhile, add Pecorino cheese to the eggs (2) and whisk them with a fork until you get a cream (3).
Now cook spaghetti in boiling salted water, respecting the cooking times specified on the package (4). Drain when they are al dente and place them in the pan with the guanciale. Cook for 1 minute, over high heat, stirrig (5). Turn off the heat then pour the cream of eggs and cheese over (6) and start to stir quickly.
At this point the cream will melt and warm; the eggs will cook without forming any lumps (7).
With the help of a ladle and a fork, create a pasta nest (8) then add guanciale, ground black pepper and grated pecorino cheese to taste (9). Serve immediately.
Spaghetti Carbonara: Variants
Each traditional recipe has many variations, and this happens also for the Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe, where variants are characterized by the addition or substitution of ingredients.
- Spaghetti Carbonara with Cream: many people like to make Spaghetti Carbonara with cream (prepared by replacing 1 egg with 1 dl of cream) because the dish is more creamy and it has a taste of egg less pronounced.
- Parmesan instead of Pecorino Romano: Even for what concerns the cheese there are those who use Parmesan cheese instead of Pecorino Romano or half Parmesan cheese and half Pecorino Romano. In this case the taste becomes less strong and flavorful (pecorino Romano is a very tasty cheese)
- Bacon instead of Guanciale: Guanciale, which is obtained from the cheek of the pork, can be replaced by bacon, which instead is obtained from the fatty part of the belly pork (must be not smoked). Not a bad choice after all.
- Spaghetti Carbonara with garlic or onion: many people like to cook the bacon with a clove of garlic or a little onion. I don’t know…in these cases carbonara tastes of onion or garlic. I think those are other kind of recipes not the original.
- Types of Pasta: There are also different opinions on the type of pasta: in addition to spaghetti, Carbonara Sauce is excellent with tagliatelle or fettuccine. In Rome, they usually use rigatoni pasta.
- And for those who don’t eat meat read this recipe: VEGETARIAN CARBONARA
- Do you like fish? Try Smoked Salmon Carbonara
Pasta Carbonara: Origins
Pasta Carbonara is a Roman recipe but it surely is a recent one, since it has been heard of it only after the Second World War. Its origin is somewhat controversial, and there are at least three plausible theories.
- Pasta dishes seasoned with products of pastoralism and agriculture (such as eggs and bacon or lard) were common in the Abruzzo mountains. It seems that some displaced people have discovered them and brought to Rome at the end of the Second World War.
- A second hypothesis says that in the Roman taverns the owners seasoned the pasta with Carbonara Sauce to feed the American soldiers because they knew that at breakfast they ate eggs and bacon. Given the success, the recipe has spread.
- The third hypothesis says that Pasta Carbonara was prepared in the Roman taverns all along, but only after the Second World War the recipe became known to the general public, because it came into the printed cookbooks.