21 February 2007
what's cooking wednesday: spaghetti alla carbonara

Today's What's Cooking Wednesday recipe is a fast (ready in a half hour) pasta dish made to stick to your ribs. It's great for a last minute meal as you probably have all the ingredients at home right now.

What? No spaghetti? Some people sure are strange.

The origins of Spaghetti all carbonara are unclear, although it's usually attributed to Rome. All we know for sure is that "carbonara" comes from the Italian word for coal, "carbone." Beyond that, some suspect this tasty plate came about because:

(1) it was prepared for coalminers;
(2) it was originally made over charcoal grills;
(3) it was invented by the Carbonari, an Italian secret society (not to be confused with the carabinieri); or
(4) the pancetta and black pepper in the dish look like little bits of coal.

That last one kinda grosses me out, and you know I'm fond of conspiracy theories and whatnot, so let's opt for the secret society explanation for the sake of this post, umkay?

However it came about, Spaghetti alla carbonara gained popularity around World War II when Italians began to eat bacon and eggs shipped over for American troops; thereafter, soldiers returning from the war took home a delicious pasta dish along with a victory.

There are many, many different recipes out there for Spaghetti alla carbonara, but I'm giving you the one we eat in our house--no cream, no bells and whistles, a real just the facts ma'am kind of plate.

And it's wonderful if I do say so myself.

By the way, you can certainly substitute bacon here, but if you can find some Italian-style bacon, aka, pancetta, do splurge.

It's worth it.

Spaghetti alla carbonara


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 thick slices pancetta, diced
1 tbsp chopped parsley

3 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper
1 package (500 g) spaghetti


First, put on the water to boil for the pasta.

Now put the olive oil in a medium skillet on medium heat, and then add the onions, garlic, pancetta, and almost all of the parsley, leaving some for garnishing if you like. Let this cook for about 2 to 3 minutes--just don't let the pancetta dry out. When it's done, stick a lid on it to keep it warm.

In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, cheese, salt, and black pepper.

Tip: to regulate salt, taste a piece of the cooked pancetta and also pay attention to how salty your cheese is. Remember you'll be cooking your pasta in salted water, so you shouldn't need much salt added to the egg mixture. A dash of black pepper should be plenty.

Once the water is boiling, add salt and cook the pasta until al dente and drain.

Now return the pasta to the empty but still warm pot and stir in the egg mixture, letting the heat cook the eggs. You can turn the burner on low here, but just be sure the eggs aren't sticking. If I happen to be using an undesirable egg-cooking kind of pot, I drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom before adding the pasta and egg mixture to prevent a sticky mess.

Once the eggs are cooked, transfer the mixture into the pan with the pancetta and mix together well. If the pancetta isn't hot enough for your liking, turn the burner on low until you're finished combining.

Sprinkle on a little fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Note that this recipe is meant for one package of spaghetti, so if you'll be making more pasta, adjust everything else accordingly.

Buon appetito!

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14 Comments:

Blogger Waspgoddess said...

Oh, yum! Even though I've just had breakfast that looks (and sounds) awesome. I'm not too keen on the creamy carbonaras you get here in the UK, but this I must try.

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Blogger Sharon said...

I love this stuff.

Blogger Ambra Celeste said...

Mmmm yummy. My kids ask for this stuff all the time! It is one of the first (Italian food) dishes my husband taught me to cook for him. Although... he didn't tell me about the garlic! Yum, next time I'm making it your way.

Blogger Christine said...

God, love this. I do without the cream or white wine too. Just unnecessary.

Anonymous J.Doe said...

I don't really like Spaghetti alla Carbonara because I'm not a pancetta fan, but your history of the dish was very interesting.

This is one of my favorite dishes to make and eat.

OMG, I was practically licking the computer screen with that photo! Even at 7:30am in the morning! Yum! :-) I'll definitely be borrowing this recipe! Thanks for sharing.

Christina

Blogger Shirley said...

You can't beat a good Carbonara, so quick and easy and the kids love it.My recipe is very similar though I use fresh rosemary sprig instead of parsley.

Blogger stefanie said...

I know I am not the norm, but still I am amused by your suggestion that we probably have all the ingredients for this at home right now. I will not bother to list all the things in the recipe that I do not have on hand. Instead I will tell you the things I actually DO have: olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and spaghetti. That is all. :-) I'm sure it's tasty, though!

Anonymous stacy said...

YU-UM! That looks so good. I love that dish and your recipe looks simple and delicious.

Blogger Giulia said...

How weird is this. I made this very dish last night for dinner without even having seen this entry! Maybe it's ESP? lol
I am eating leftovers right now as I type. I know, it's not the best dish to eat reheated, but hey, it's lunch.

Blogger Becslifeonline said...

This looks fantastic! I had carbonara a few days ago but it was one of those ready made ones in a jar and i poured it over the spaghetti - it was ok but I expect it was nothing like the real Italian thing!

Blogger Bongga Mom said...

Oh yummy! You inspired me, guess what my family will be having for dinner tonight... :)

Blogger Bongga Mom said...

OK, we've just had dinner and your recipe is soooo delish! My family gobbled it up. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

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