According to a widespread legend, this dish goes back to the Italian Carbonari, who made charcoal in the Appenine mountains. It is said this Spaghetti dish was cooked over a fire in a cast iron pan during their breaks.
The Carbonari (Italian for “charcoal makers”) were an informal network of secret revolutionary societies active in the Italian mountains from about 1800 to 1831.
The most important ingredient in this tasty dish is a certain bacon. The Guanciale is made from the pork cheek. It is air-dried, non-smoked and is produced in Lazio, a region in central Italy. Its taste is unique! This piece of bacon is pretty hard to come by. You should ask an Italian deli in your city. It is definitely worth it! Alternatively, you can buy the pancetta, which is much easier to get. I like smoked, so I used thick smoked bacon for this recipe.
The preparation of the Spaghetti Carbonara is quite simple, but the devil is in the details. If you are not careful, you have a curdled, greasy cheese and egg sauce. First you should have everything ready when preparing.
1 pound Spaghetti
4 egg yolks
2 cups shredded Romano or aged Parmesan cheese
Guanciale, Pancetta or thick bacon cut in cubes
Dash of salt and pepper
The bacon, whether Guanciale, Pancetta (thick smoked bacon if not available) is cut into small strips or cubes.
Now separate the eggs, since only the egg yolk is needed for the carbonara and whisk it.
Grate the Romano cheese (or aged Parmesan) with a fine grater.
Mix the grated cheese with the whisked egg yolk.
Start with frying the bacon in the hot pan so that it becomes completely crispy.
Cook the spaghetti in salted water according to the package instructions until it has a bite. Under no circumstances should you pour the pasta water away, as you will still need about 4-5 tablespoons later.
When the fried bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan. Now you have a lot of fat in the pan, but this is exactly what the carbonara needs as a flavor carrier.
Add the cooked spaghetti to the pan, remove from heat.
Fold in the egg mixture and the bacon under the spaghetti, mix everything well. Tip: the pan should be cooled down before adding the cheese and egg mixture to the pan, otherwise the egg would curl immediately. The result should be a slightly firm, creamy consistency.
Now add 2-3 tablespoons of the hot pasta water and mix the spaghetti again. The consistency should now be significantly creamier.
Season the spaghetti carbonara with very little salt, but a good pinch of pepper.
Mix everything well and check the consistency. If needed, keep adding one or two hot tablespoons of pasta water for a wonderfully creamy sauce.
The Pasta should be served immediately and placed on pre-warmed plates
I have been living half of my life in Germany, then US, and traveling since then. My passion is cooking, painting and glass mosaic art. I try to re-create recipes I grew up with, or I tasted while traveling in Europe. Disclosure: As an Amazon Affiliate I earn a small commission if you click through and make qualifying purchases with no additional cost to you.