Carbonara is a traditional Italian pasta dish that is simple to make and absolutely delicious. The dish originated in Rome and is now enjoyed all over the world. Carbonara traditionally consists of spaghetti but you can use other pasta. Guancaiale (cured meat from the Pigs cheek) is what Carbonara should really be made with, but it can be hard to get hold of so you may have to order online or ask your butcher if they can get some in for you. Pancetta is a pretty good alternative. Eggs, pecorino cheese (you could use parmesan or a mixture of both), and black pepper make up the rest of this simple dish. It is a quick and easy meal that is perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends.
History of Carbonara
The history of carbonara is a little murky, but one story it is that it originated in Rome after World War II. The dish was likely created as a way to use up American bacon and eggs that were left over from the war. It is also thought to be named after the Carbonari, a group of Italian revolutionaries who wore black hoods and were known for their love of food and drink.
Ingredients to Serve 4
The ingredients for carbonara are simple and easy to find. You will need:
180g guanciale or pancetta diced
5 large egg yolks
100g freshly grated pecorino / parmesan cheese or a mix of both
Salt and black pepper to taste
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, cook the guanciale or pancetta in a large pan over medium-high heat until crispy. Take off the heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and parmesan cheese until well combined. It will be a thick paste consistency.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
Add the pasta to the pan with the pancetta and toss to combine.
Add the egg mixture to the pan and continually stir or toss to combine.
The heat from the pasta and the pan will cook the eggs and create a creamy sauce.
If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water to thin it out.
Season the carbonara with salt and plenty of black pepper.
Serve the carbonara immediately, garnished with additional parmesan cheese and black pepper.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the perfect carbonara:
Use good quality ingredients. The better your meat, eggs, and cheese, the better your carbonara will taste.
I cannot stress this enough…Make sure the pan is OFF the heat when you add the egg mixture. You want the eggs to cook slowly and not scramble.
Reserve some of the pasta water. The starchy water is a great addition to the sauce and can help thin it out if it's too thick.
Don't overcook the pasta. You want it to be al dente so it has a little bit of bite to it.
Carbonara is a classic Italian and the combination creates a creamy, flavourful sauce that is perfect for pasta. Give this recipe a try the next time you're looking for a quick and easy meal. It's sure to become a favourite in your house!