Pasta Alla Carbonara (From Pasta & Other Things)


6 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, diced
1 pound spaghetti
3 large eggs well beaten
3/4 cup cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano combined with ΒΌ grated Pecorino Romano


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the pancetta and stir fry until crisp. Take the pan off the heat and set aside.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the salt and the spaghetti, stirring often and cook until al dente.
Drain the spaghetti, reserving the 3/4 cup of pasta water, and return the spaghetti back to the pot. Do not rinse in cold water, you need the pasta hot to help cook the eggs. Set over very low heat. Immediately add the eggs, half of the cheese, the reserved pancetta, and any rendered fat, and toss well.
Add just enough of the reserved pasta water to make the mixture creamy.
Sprinkle generously with pepper and serve immediately.
Use the remaining cheese to pass at the table.


There are so many legends on the history of this dish that I do not believe that anyone knows the real origin. Since the word carbonara and the word carbone, the Italian word for coal, both derive from the Latin word carbo, I lean towards the coal miner legend.

According to this legend, the dish was popular with miners. When it was time to eat, all the ingredients were easily cooked over a campfire. The liberal use of pepper is considered a modern day metaphor for the specks of coal that would inevitably drop from the miners clothing onto the plates of pasta. Others say the name comes from the carbon that rose from cooking the dish over the campfire.

Wherever or whoever created this dish, I for one am happy they did. It is a delicious and easily made recipe. There are quite a few recipes for this floating around and many are close to the old recipe except those that add a cream sauce to it. If you want to taste a real pasta carbonara, please, please do not add cream to this recipe unless you actually want a pasta alfredo.





Monday, January 10, 2011 - 4:42am


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