Spaghetti alla carbonara

Spaghetti alla carbonara

By
From
Margaret Fulton Favourites
Serves
4
Photographer
Tanya Zouev and Armelle Habib

Giving credit where it is due is important in most families — particularly when it comes to cooking. My niece, a very good cook herself, stayed with a family in Italy who introduced her to spaghetti alla carbonara.

Uncle was heralded the best carbonara cook. He was very particular about the small details and would squeeze the butter between his fingers to break it up and get it soft. He was fussy about the quality of pancetta — Italy’s answer to bacon — and was also particular about parmesan cheese, which is an inseparable part of Italian cooking, often tasting it before he bought it. Good parmesan is aged for three to four years, sometimes even longer, and has no peer for grating over pasta.

I have been making this dish for years, and even though I follow all the rules I can’t quite get it to Uncle’s standard — it’s still good, though, and well worth trying.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g spaghetti
3 eggs
1/2 cup cream
200g pancetta or bacon, rind removed
60g butter
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain and turn into a heated serving bowl, covering to keep the pasta warm. Beat the eggs lightly with the cream and set aside. Meanwhile, cut the pancetta or bacon into thin strips and cook gently in a pan in a little of the butter for a few minutes or until crispy.
  2. Just before serving, stir the eggs into the pancetta and cook over a very gentle heat until the eggs just start to thicken. Pour onto the spaghetti, tossing well with the remaining butter (the idea is that the butter has been softened and should stay creamy, not quite melting, which would make it oily) and chopped parsley. Add the parmesan, season well with pepper and toss again.

Note

  • Pancetta is the fat and lean meat cut only from the belly of the pig, and is cured with salt, pepper and other spices without being smoked. It is tightly rolled into a sausage and sold in pieces or sliced. When it is good quality, it can be eaten just like ham or prosciutto.
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