Carbonara is larger than life. This is an Italian classic found especially in Rome, where glorious food is the standard, and this creamy dish is the perfect example.
No one really knows who created this apparently simple combination of flavors – pork cheek, eggs and cheese, but it truly turns pasta into a memorable meal. The thing with carbonara is that no one makes it right — for some experts, if you add cream, you’re wrong, and if you don’t use authentic guanciale, then it’s not the real deal.
Well, although we agree with the cream part, we like making our carbonara with thick-cut bacon instead of the harder-to-find guanciale. There’s no noticeable difference. Besides, there’s nothing bacon can’t do, right?
Let’s start with the pasta. Spaghetti is traditional for carbonara, but any pasta will work nicely. Linguine is a fantastic option as the wide noodles are coated better with the sauce.
You’ll also need two eggs and a yolk, and this is important because it’s the yolks what make the pasta so creamy. Remember, we’re not using heavy cream. You’ll need authentic guanciale, or for a more readily available version, thick-cut bacon. Garlic and onion are a must, and so is olive oil and let’s not forget about the Parmesan cheese. That’s it! Eight ingredients make the meanest carbonara you’ve tried.
For a perfect carbonara, timing is important. Once the pasta is cooked al dente, you need to coat it with the sauce immediately. The pasta’s heat melts the cheese and cooks the egg, so the pasta can’t be cold (don’t rinse it!)
And keep on tossing that pasta because nobody wants scrambled eggs in their spaghetti. What you want is all the ingredients in communion for creamy pasta that has no cream — you’ll know when it’s ready, and that moment is immensely satisfying!
Cut the bacon into small cubes. Mince the garlic and onion.
Boil the pasta in a pot with water and a teaspoon of salt until al dente (10-15 minutes.)
In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Add in the garlic and onion until translucent and fragrant.
Drain the pasta and pour it into the skillet.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and mix with the Parmesan.
Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and incorporate.
Serve, top with extra Parmesan and season with black pepper to taste.