Any dish containing eggs and bacon has got to be a winner for the British & American palette but how do you go about creating the perfect spaghetti carbonara?
As with so many Italian dishes, this one has a disputed history, although most people accept that carbonara probably originated in, or near Rome. The story goes that Umbrian coal men (carbonari) introduced it to the Romans when they came to sell charcoal to them. It has since become a global favourite – although one that has many variations!
Over time, the authentic Italian carbonara has been heavily tampered with by Brits and Americans alike. Ingredients such as cream, peas and mushrooms have crept in (much to the Italians dismay!). These additions have become so common in America and England that it’s now considered the norm to make carbonara this way. In Italy, it really isn’t (ask an Italian!) Whilst carbonara may be a simple dish, the devil is in the detail. Tossing the pasta to combine the ingredients is an art and factors such as the cut of the pancetta and amount of good quality Italian cheese (parmesan / pecorino) are significantly important. Pepper is a must!
Antonio Carluccio’s recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a must try. We recommend a glass (or two) of Gavi di Gavi as an accompaniment – just don’t pour it in the carbonara 😉
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Spaghetti Carbonara (with Eggs and Bacon)
I include a recipe for this well-known dish because most people I know get it completely wrong, either adding milk or cream or letting the eggs become scrambled.
500g (1 lb 2 oz) spaghetti or spaghettoni (the largest spaghetti)
25g (1 oz) lard
25g (1 oz) butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, slightly squashed
100g (4 oz) pancetta or guanciale, cut into small chunks
5 tbsp dry white wine
100g (4 oz) Parmesan cheese (or pecorino for the purists), freshly grated
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the lard, butter and oil in a pan and fry the garlic pancetta or guanciale until crisp. Discard the garlic and add the white wine to the pan. Boil to evaporate it a little.
Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl with the grated cheese, parsley and some salt and pepper. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the egg mixture in the bowl, stirring to coat the pasta. Then add to the pancetta or guanciale in the pan. Stir a couple of times and then serve.