Pasta alla Carbonara, one of the most famous traditional Italian recipes, one of the favorites by many italians, but also one of the most distorted Italian recipes outside Italy, if I can say it 😀 in these last years I saw all kind of possible ways about how to ruin such a simple and easy recipe (I even saw some kind of prepared “carbonara sauce” bottles in some stores, with some weird ingredients), so let’s try to make a good example of this very tasty and easy pasta. Really, everyone can do it!
Actually there is a lot to talk about this dish 🙂 first of all there isn’t a real 100% precise “real” recipe, but sure there are some guidelines to respect that name.
And also its origin is not perfectly clear, but we can say that most of people agree to say that it was created in the area of Rome and surroundings, where it became a symbol of the local cuisine, but there are some other theories too 🙂
Probably this recipe was created during the 2nd Worldwide War, in that time there was not much food and one of the easiest available things were eggs (in powder) and bacon, provided by USA troops to the local population, and someone had the idea to mix them in a pasta 🙂 then with the time the American bacon has been substituted with the Guanciale (cheek lard), and nowadays that has become the most common option in that area (but also Pancetta, though most of the best Italian chefs today agree to say that Guanciale is the best choice…unfortunately since I’m not in Italy I cannot find it always so easily here, but I have no problems to do it also with a good pancetta 🙂 ). But it’s the smallest problem, indeed in some older Italian cookbooks is not uncommon to read “pancetta” for this recipe, and it’s a very similar ingredient. I think it’s more important to have good quality free range eggs for the success of this recipe, for example, if I have to pick an ingredient more important than others.
So, as you probably already noticed, there is no cream 🙂 and no onion, no white wine, no yoghurt, no chorizo, and other things like that…to be clear, it’s not forbidden at all to use those ingredients if you like them, just in that case it’s no more a Carbonara but something else 🙂 because names are important in Italy, and I also think there is no sense to call something X when it’s completely different from the real X.
What about the cheese? As we said, this recipe is considered typical especially of Rome area and surroundings, and there the most common cheese at that time it was the Pecorino (the most famous Italian cheese made with sheep milk).
But nowadays some people prefer more delicate taste, so it’s also not rare to see recipes using Parmigiano Reggiano (made in northern Italy), or a mix of these 2 cheese together. It’s up to your taste, but these are very probably the only 2 “allowed” options 😀
And which pasta? Probably the most common are spaghetti. In alternative also “rigatoni” or “mezze maniche” are quite a common choice.
But let’s see the recipe now 🙂
INGREDIENTS (2 people):
- 200 g of Spaghetti (or Spaghettoni)
- 4 yolks (at room temperature)
- 80 g of guanciale (or pancetta/pancetta affumicata if you don’t find it, but not too much smoked, just a little bit like it’s made in Italy, the possible smoke must not cover the other ingredients)
- 80 g of freshly grated Pecorino
- freshly ground black pepper
- First of all, cut the guanciale (or pancetta) into thick slices or cubes, and heat them in a hot pan, with no other fats if we use guanciale, which is fat enough, or if we use pancetta we can add a little drop of extra virgin olive oil (if it’s not too fatty). We cook it until it gets crunchy and we keep it for the end.
- Meanwhile we start to cook the spaghetti into boiling and salted water.
- Now we take a large bowl, possibly made of metal, and we break inside the yolks, we whisk them and we beat in half of the cheese and some pepper. We should make a quite thick cream. That’s our sauce, cold, yes 🙂 the yolks coagulate at 65 °C, so the hot spaghetti will be enough for that, and in this way it will avoid to have a “frittata” effect.
- When the pasta is ready, we drain it and we put it in the pan with the guanciale/pancetta (you can remove some of the liquid fat, if you want to make it a bit lighter), we mix it well and then we put the whole inside the bowl where there is our sauce, and we mix it well again.
- Serve it in the dish, add again some pepper and the remaining cheese, and that’s all 🙂 ready to eat, and as fast as possible 😀 a cold Carbonara it’s not that good!