It would be a deadly sin to stuff your face with box pasta and canned sauce. Or worse—canned spaghetti—like that poor bastard in the thriller, Se7en. Besides, I think we’ve had enough tomato recipes for now.
What I love about Carbonara is that I can avoid the usual acidic tomato sauces and also not go down the Alfredo route that can give lactose-intolerant folks grief. Like most Italian dishes, there are many ways to prepare this dish. Carbonara is an Italian-American creation dating back to WWII, and as such, recipes vary wildly. This recipe makes the preparation a great deal simpler than the “traditional” method but it is still delicious and different than the usual pasta night.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 lb spaghetti, cooked – reserve 1/4 cup of the water
3 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp of garlic powder)
black pepper, freshly ground
- Mixing bowl
- Large Saucepan
- Colander / strainer
- Cook your spaghetti by the directions on the package. Do NOT strain immediately. Take the pot off the heat but keep the pasta hot in the water while you prepare your sauce.
- In a mixing bowl, beat your eggs and parmesan cheese together well, breaking up any lumps of cheese. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta/bacon and sauté to render the fat and make the bacon a little crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; if you are using chopped garlic, sauté until the garlic is soft, about a minute. Remove your saucepan from the heat.
- Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Drain the rest from your pasta and add the noodles to your saucepan, tossing together to evenly coat all of the noodles.
- Pour your egg and cheese mixture over the pasta in the saucepan and toss it all together, allowing the eggs to thicken without scrambling. Add a little bit of water as needed to melt the cheese into a velvety smooth consistency.
- Season with the black pepper, from a pepper mill if you have one.
- Serve the pasta with a side dish of extra cheese to sprinkle on as desired.
I was worried when I mixed the cheese in with the eggs as it made a thick paste at first. However, once the water was added later, it smoothed out into a rich, luscious sauce.
We will make this many times over. The kids loved the sauce. I was afraid they would turn their noses up at the eggs, but the sauce does not taste of eggs. All you taste is Parmesan and bacon. So basically heaven on pasta.