Recipe – Spaghetti Carbonara

Classic Pasta Sauces - Spaghetti Carbonara
This simple Roman sauce is made creamy by the combination of egg yolks and hard cheese – it doesn’t contain cream, despite the profusion of recipes using it. The origin of the name is a bit more of a mystery … ‘carbone’ is Italian for coal, and it’s been suggested that this was a favourite snack of charcoal sellers, alternatively that the flecks of black pepper through the sauce look like coal dust. The guanciale (cured pork cheek) that’s traditionally used can be hard to find, so substitute pancetta (cured pork belly) if necessary. It’s a super simple dish, the only trick is to work quickly once the pasta is cooked, it has to be tossed with the egg mixture while it’s still very hot, so the residual heat of the pasta cooks the egg and melts the cheese to make the deliciously creamy sauce. Pour a glass of Curly Flat Pinot Noir and dig in.

Serves 6 as an entrée

Ingredients
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150g freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g guanciale, diced 

Try my recipe for vegetarian Zucchini Carbonara. Here’s all you need to know about cooking pasta perfectly (scroll down to Q&A).

Method
  1. Combine eggs, and about three-quarters of the Pecorino in a bowl with a generous grind of pepper.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and add spaghetti.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan.
  4. Add guanciale and cook over a low-medium heat until starting to crisp. Set pan aside.
  5. When pasta is cooked, return the guanciale to the heat, drain pasta reserving a little of the cooking water, and add pasta to the guanciale in the pan.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat, add egg mixture and toss until well combined and creamy, adding a dash of the cooking water if it seems too dry.
  7. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese. 

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