“Spaghetti alla carbonara” is one of the most famous Italian dish in the word and it’s still uncertain if its original recipe comes from Rome or Abruzzo, both in the Center of Italy. The original recipe has an American influence: during the Second World War, American soldiers moved to Italy and tried to reproduce something traditional in their country, mixing the ingredients found in Italian territory: “guanciale” and “cacio e ova” from Abruzzo. “Guanciale” comes from pork cheek and it’s similar to pancetta (pancetta comes from pork belly and it is less fat than guanciale), while “cacio e ova” is a pasta dish from Abruzzo traditions containing cheese (“cacio”) and eggs (“ova”). The final result is a pasta dish with a creamy sauce, made with eggs, Pecorino cheese, guanciale and black pepper.
Serves: 2 people
Time: 10 minutes
- 3 egg yolks
- 50g Pecorino cheese (or Parmigiano reggiano, but the original recipe uses Pecorino romano)
- 150g of guanciale (or pancetta if it is not possible to find it)
- 200g of spaghetti
- Black pepper
- Put the egg yolks in a bowl and add finely grated Pecorino cheese. Season with black pepper (remember that the name “carbonara” comes from coal miners, so originally this dish was almost full of black pepper, but you can choose the quantity according to your taste!) then mix well with a fork and put to one side.
- Chop guanciale in pieces and set aside (sometimes you can also find ready-sliced quality bacon).
- Fill a large pan with water and salt it when it starts to boil, then cook spaghetti in the salted water until “al dente”. Meanwhile place a medium pan (should be a no stick one) over a medium-high heat and stir in the guanciale until it will start to crisp up, in particular the fat part should become transparent and crispy.
- Drain and add spaghetti in the medium pan with the previously cooked guanciale and toss well over the heat so it really soaks up the flavour, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Pour in the egg mixture and toss well, the pan will help to cook the egg gently, rather than scrambling it.
- Serve with a grating of Pecorino cheese and an extra twist of pepper.
- It is not easy to find Pecorino cheese and guanciale outside of Italy, so it is possible to replace Pecorino cheese with Parmigiano and use pancetta instead of guanciale. It will taste differently, of course, because Parmigiano has not a strong taste as Pecorino, but it still remains the best option. About pancetta, you should search for the fattest one to replace guanciale and cook it in the pan with a spoon of extra virgin olive oil. Even with these variations it will remain irresistible!
- It is possible to use different shapes of pasta instead of spaghetti, but it is reccomended to use long shaped one, like bucatini and fettuccine.