Classic roman pasta with egg and bacon

Classic roman pasta with egg and bacon

Spaghettoni alla carbonara

By
From
Pasta
Serves
4
Photographer
Laura Edwards

The origins of this dish are various, some realistic, some fairly apocryphal! The use of the word carbonara suggests, however, that it is something to do with charcoal burners or coal porters – the black pepper representing flecks of coal. It could also have a hint of early 19th century politics, if associated with an undercover political movement called Carbonari, so called because they used to meet in cellars where the coal was kept. Either way, the recipe is definitely related to Rome and as such guanciale, preserved pork cheek, is used for the bacon. If you follow this recipe precisely, you might not end up with scrambled egg, which is usually the result! And you definitely don’t use cream!

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g dried spaghettoni pasta
salt and pepper, to taste

Sauce

Quantity Ingredient
50ml olive oil
100g either smoked pancetta (bacon), guanciale or fatty parma ham, all cut into small cubes
3 medium whole eggs and 3 medium egg yolks, beaten
60g parmesan or pecorino cheese, freshly grated
salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Put the oil in a large saucepan and fry the cubes of whatever bacon or ham you use until crispy, about 5–6 minutes. Mix the beaten eggs with the cheese and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for about 8 minutes or until al dente. Lift from the water with pasta tongs and put in a warm pan, off the heat, with the bacon and fat. The pasta shouldn’t be too hot. Then pour in the egg mixture, and mix well so that the egg adheres to the pasta, just coating it, without curdling. Serve with more freshly ground black pepper.

Alternatives

  • Years ago Michael Palin gave me a can of Spam. On the back was written the recipe for Spam carbonara! I find this very funny, but I have never tried it. However, I have tried the recipe with black pudding, calling it Scottish carbonara. I substituted the guanciale with little cubes of a special black pudding from Stornoway, which was delicious. So you have the choice…
Tags:
Antonio
Carluccio
pasta
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