Spaghetti Carbonara, one of the most famous Pasta Recipes of Roman Cuisine, made only with 5 simple ingredients: spaghetti seasoned with browned guanciale, black pepper, pecorino Romano and beaten eggs. In the traditional recipe for spaghetti carbonara, you need no other ingredients so
DO NOT USE garlic, parsley, onion, cream, milk, parmigiano, pancetta, bacon.
If you read this recipe thoroughly, you will see that there are many Pasta Carbonara variations, even here in Italy, but they are…variations 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 scrambled eggs or too little to be raw and cold.
There are a few tricks to make a perfect carbonara and now we’ll let you know.
How to Make Spaghetti Carbonara Traditional Recipe
- 4 whole eggs (1 egg each yeld)
- 100 g (3,50 oz) of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- ground black pepper
Step 1) – Browning the guanciale. Cut the guanciale into small pieces (cubes, slices … the one you prefer) then simmer in a frying pan over medium heat. No need for oil: guanciale is already fat, greasy and fabulous of its own. If you want, you can add a tablespoon of cooking water and emulsify, in this way you will create a great fat sauce to season spaghetti properly. When ready, turn off the heat and set aside.
Step 2) – Making eggs-pecorino sauce. Whisk the Pecorino Romano (which is a very salty and tasty Italian cheese so there’s no need to add salt) with the eggs and a little bit of ground black pepper. Stir quickly with a fork – or a hand whisk – until you get a creamy sauce. Set aside.
Step 3) – Cook the spaghetti al dente in boiling salted water (one liter of water for every 100 g / 3,50 oz of pasta and 15 g / 0,50 oz of coarse salt per liter of water), following the cooking time found on the pasta packaging. If they don’t fit in the pan, the best way is to hold them in a bunch vertically and immerse. Let go and they will fall out in all directions and as they soften, with the help of a fork let them sink. Then stir and cook for the time required.
Step 4) – Drain when they are ready then put them in the frying pan, over high heat, to season it properly with the fat of the guanciale.
At this point, we have reached the crucial moment of spaghetti carbonara; not to put tension on it, but this is the fleeting moment in which you can make an immortal dish or one that will be a real failure.
You will have to be quick, ready and ruthless. Here’s how to do it
Step 5) – When the spaghetti and guanciale are sizzling in the pan, TURN OFF THE HEAT, otherwise the eggs cook too much and you’ll find yourself with scrambled eggs and spaghetti! Now quickly add the eggs and pecorino cream and stir. The pan is warm but not hot so that the eggs will cook without lump.
Step 6) – Pay attention to the consistency, which must be creamy, but not fluid. If you notice that it’s too liquid, add some pecorino. Spaghetti carbonara is ready. Serve immediately. So with the help of a ladle and a fork, create a pasta nest and place it on a plate.
Step 7) – Add guanciale (the ones left in the pan), ground black pepper and grated pecorino cheese to taste.
Spaghetti carbonara should be served as soon as they are cooked and eaten immediately. No form of conservation is recommended.
Guanciale or Pancetta?
Pancetta in carbonara pasta should not be used. Guanciale is pure magic and if you remove its golden fat, carbonara becomes flat and dull. The reason is the intrinsic quality of the ingredients: guanciale has flavor and fat, pancetta is drier.
Guanciale is an Italian cured meat product made with pork jowl or cheeks. Its name comes from guancia, Italian for cheek, sometimes translated with pork cheek lard or jowl bacon. Salted and peppered, it’s left to mature for 3 months.
Today we propose the traditional Roman recipe of spaghetti carbonara, where the guanciale is the top ingredient, in fact, the taste, the fat, we could say the juice of the seasoning comes from this little jewel of Italian culinary art.
Many people use pancetta in carbonara pasta, sometimes because it’s easier to find it on the market, but more often they use it because guanciale is a rather fat meat and there is no doubt that it is a hyper caloric ingredient.
Spaghetti carbonara with pancetta is a variation of the traditional recipe.
Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano?
Spaghetti carbonara traditional recipe is an Italian recipe whose origins are in Lazio. The recipe wants pecorino romano because it’s a cheese born in Lazio, while Parmigiano reggiano belongs to another region: Emilia Romagna. So you can use parmigiano reggiano for sure in your carbonara recipe but be aware that is a variation of the more classic carbonara pasta.
As with all the dishes of traditional Italian cuisine, there are several variations to the Spaghetti Carbonara original recipe. Now we’ll show you some of these variations: what to add and what to remove from the traditional ingredients and why.
Each traditional recipe has many variations, and this happens even for spaghetti carbonara Italian recipe, where variantions are characterized by the addition or substitution of ingredients.
- Spaghetti Carbonara with Cream: many people like to make Spaghetti Carbonara with cream (made by replacing 1 egg with 1 dl of cream) because the dish is more creamy and it has a taste of egg less pronounced. Well, the cream should not be used to make the dish more creamy, for the simple reason that the fat of the guanciale, the cheese and the eggs are already quite creamy and heavy by nature, so adding the cream would only make the dish heavier and cloying. But it is true that if you prepare large quantities of pasta, a dash of cream can help make the seasoning more fluid, but it must remain a secret and is a makeshift solution. Cooking tricks, but only for desperate cases.
- Pasta carbonara with parmigiano: Even for what concerns the cheese there are those who use Parmigiano cheese instead of Pecorino Romano or half Parmigiano cheese and half Pecorino Romano. In this case the taste becomes less strong and flavorful (pecorino Romano is a very tasty cheese)
- Carbonara with pancetta: Guanciale, which is obtained from the cheek of the pork, can be replaced by pancetta which instead is obtained from the fatty part of the belly pork . It’s drier and less fat. If you use pancetta (possibly not smoked), add a tablespoon of oil to fry it.
- Spaghetti Carbonara with garlic or onion: many people like to cook the guanciale with a clove of garlic or a little onion. We don’t know…carbonara tastes a lot of onion and garlic…another recipe for another time.
- Carbonara with parsley: do not put parsley everywhere…
- 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 pancetta 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.
Now you know all the tricks to make a perfect carbonara recipe. So come on! Let’s start cooking!