Simple Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Another of the best parts of Italy, besides the wine, and the towns, and the countryside, and the art… is the food. Italian cuisine places great emphasis on freshness and quality of ingredients, which translates into seriously delicious dishes. It doesn’t have to be complicated either in order to take full advantage of the flavors. This recipe for simple spaghetti alla carbonara requires a minimal amount of ingredients. Have some eggs? A box of spaghetti? Some bacon, olive oil, and a grated white cheese? There you go. You can make this dish and have a tasty, authentic Italian meal right in the comfort of your own kitchen. There’s a little bit more to it than that, but never fear. I will fill you in (for those of you who know me well, stop laughing. I have improved significantly in the kitchen since the days I couldn’t scramble an egg!). If I can do it, so can you!

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These are your main ingredients:

6 0z. (185 g) bacon or pancetta, best in thick slices (1/4 inch or 6 mm)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb (500 g) spaghetti

1/4 cup (1 oz/30 g) grated pecorino romano cheese

1/4 cup (1 oz/30 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus a little extra

3 large eggs, at room temperature

*Makes 4-6 servings

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Directions:

1. First cut the bacon or pancetta into small pieces, and add meat and olive oil to a large frying pan heated over medium-low heat. Cook until the meat is slightly browned, but not crispy. There will be plenty of fat in the pan, and this is okay. Once the meat is browned, turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

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2. Bring a large pot about 3/4 full of water to a boil. Add in 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente. The noodles should be soft, but still firm. Usually the package instructions provide the recommended time for cooking, but it generally ranges from 8 – 10 minutes.

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3. While the pasta is cooking, mix the cheeses together in a small bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together 2 full eggs and just the yolk from the 3rd egg until well blended. Stir in half of the cheese mixture, along with several grinds of pepper.

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4. This is the most important step! Put a large bowl, large enough to hold all of the pasta, in the sink with the colander in it. You must drain the pasta into the bowl, so the hot water heats the serving bowl. Drain the pasta quickly, then transfer it to the large pan in which the meat and oil has been keeping warm. Coat the pasta with the fat and oil, being careful not to burn yourself. Drain the serving bowl, saving a little bit of the water, and re-transfer the pasta mixture back to the now warmed bowl. Stir in the egg mixture, stirring quickly in order to coat all of the pasta. The idea is that the eggs will cook slightly due to the retained heat from the bowl. If the eggs scramble, something is too hot. If they are too runny, it wasn’t quite hot enough. If the pasta seems dry, add a little bit of the reserved water. If it seems runny, add some of the extra cheese. (This sounds complicated, but it’s actually pretty easy.)

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Now it’s ready to serve! Pair it with your favorite Italian wine, and you have now made an Italian dinner that doesn’t involve red sauce in less than 30 minutes. Magnifico!

{Recipe originally from Williams-Sonoma cookbook Rome}

  • Looks so good, I now want that for breakfast!

    • Amy Lynne Hayes

      Haha love that! Why can’t we have pasta for breakfast? Or a late night snack at least!

  • Oh my lord! That looks amazing, and SO simple! I don’t think I realized just how simple a good carbonara was… will need to add it to my recipe book!

    • Amy Lynne Hayes

      It is soooo simple! It quickly became a favorite in my house, especially on those nights you really can’t be fussed to make something extravagant, like a 2 or 3 dish meal! lol