Pasta comes in many shapes and sizes and can be amped up with a wide array of ingredients including different meats, cheeses and veggies. Italy is home to many of these iconic pasta dishes including Carbonara which originated in Rome.
Carbonara is one of those dishes that don’t require many ingredients, but the ones it does, creates a burst of flavor. Typically made with egg, hard cheese like Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano, cured pork like pancetta or guanciale and topped with a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper, this simple dish is quite tasteful.
The pancetta or guanciale can also be replaced with bacon which is common in Americanized versions of the recipe.
Origins of the recipe can be traced back to 1839, but became extremely popular in the 19th century and was known as “coal miner’s spaghetti,” when it was first introduced in the United States.
Nowadays, it is a very common dish seen on Italian restaurant menus everywhere.
If you are interested in making this dish for yourself, follow the recipe below!
- Place a large pot of lightly salted water (no more than 1 tablespoon salt) over high heat, and bring to a boil. Fill a large bowl with hot water for serving, and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and pecorino and Parmesan. Season with a pinch of salt and generous black pepper.
- Set the water to boil. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the pork, and sauté until the fat just renders, on the edge of crispness but not hard. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add pasta to the water and boil until a bit firmer than al dente. Just before pasta is ready, reheat guanciale in skillet, if needed. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and add to the skillet over low heat. Stir for a minute or so.
- Empty serving bowl of hot water. Dry it and add hot pasta mixture. Stir in cheese mixture, adding some reserved pasta water if needed for creaminess. Serve immediately, dressing it with a bit of additional grated pecorino and pepper.
- 2 large eggs and 2 large yolks, room temperature
- 1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated pecorino Romano, plus additional for serving
- 1 ounce (about 1/3 packed cup) grated Parmesan
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 ½ ounces of slab guanciale, pancetta or bacon, sliced into pieces about 1/4 inch thick by 1/3 inch square
- 12 ounces spaghetti (about 3/4 box)