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.
A legend emerged later, it is said the this Italian pasta classic was created in the 1920s. American soldiers stationed in Rome are said to have asked Italian friends to cook for them. They brought eggs and bacon, the Italians had their pasta. How exactly the carbonara emerged from this has not yet been clarified. I don’t care! The main thing: an Italian pasta hit was born. And holds up to this day!
Spaghetti Carbonara tastes like it sounds. Velvety, silky, incredibly creamy. The perfect harmony, fusion of sauce and pasta. And yet there is no other pasta classic where opinions differ more. Especially when it comes to ingredients. Let’s start with whole cream. Does it belong in the sauce? Definitely not. Neither does cream cheese, which you can frequently see in online recipes. Only Parmesan (or Romano) and Guanciale, Pancetta (thick bacon) are mandatory at Carbonara.
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.
3 slices Pancetta (instead of Guanciale) or thick bacon cut in cubes
Dash of salt and pepper
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.
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