You all know that spaghetti carbonara is a tasty Italian dish. But also the story behind it is surprising and interesting to learn. We will dig into it further down in this article. And although an authentic pasta carbonara contains only 4 ingredients, there are many misconceptions. But let us start with having a look at this almost authentic spaghetti carbonara. Almost authentic, because the original uses guanciale instead of bacon strips. We will explain that later on.
How to make an almost authentic spaghetti carbonara
You only need 4 ingredients for this almost authentic spaghetti carbonara. And the good thing is, you will only need 20 minutes to make it. Perfect thus for a fast midweek meal. Yet there are things you can do wrong. But no worry, this recipe is in everyone's reach. Just follow the manual.
Cooking the spaghetti
We start with bringing the water for the spaghetti to a boil. Then the spaghetti can cook as indicated on the package. It should still be slightly "al dente" when we drain it. We will heat it in the pan with the bacon strips later on. And that's just enough to have it nice and "al dente".
Preparing the sauce
While the spaghetti is cooking, we can prepare the sauce with the eggs and the Pecorino cheese. According to the strict (and the most tasteful) rule, you should only use the egg yolk. Afterwards you have to add a few tablespoons of cooking water from the spaghetti to get the sauce nice and creamy. However, most often I use the whole egg. Then I don't need to worry about the egg white and what to do with it. And I also don't like throwing it away either. Then you have more moisture and you have to add less cooking water. We want to end up with a sticky sauce that adheres well to the spaghetti.
Frying the bacon
Now we can heat a pan and fry the bacon without adding any fat. Here we deviate from the original carbonara recipe. In the true Italian version guanciale is used. This is bacon from the pork's cheek. And bacon is from the belly. But the practical problem is of course that guanciale is not easy to obtain. You have to order it specially from a butcher. Therefore, the carbonara you eat will usually be made with bacon, the belly fat. and so do we in our almost authentic spaghetti carbonara recipe.
The final steps and the finishing touch
When the spaghetti is ready, we drain it. Then we add it to the pan with the fried bacon strips. Now stir everything well together so that the spaghetti absorbs the fat and flavor of the bacon.
Next it is important to take the pan off the heat before mixing in the sauce. We only want the egg to set and the Pecorino to melt. And that the sauce adheres well to the spaghetti. If we leave the pan on the fire, the egg will fry. And then we have spaghetti with scrambled eggs. You don't want that!
So mix the sauce well with the spaghetti and bacon. Allow the flavors to integrate and the sauce to adhere to the spaghetti. Then you can serve the almost authentic spaghetti carbonara in deep plates and finish it off. For that finish you can use some extra ground Pecorino, some black pepper. And a basil leaf for a superb optical experience.
About spaghetti carbonara
You might think, pasta carbonara is such a classic Italian dish. For sure it must be centuries old. At least! But nothing is less true. In fact there is no trace of such kind of a recipe that goes back further than the second world war
It is generally believed that pasta carbonara was first served in 1944. And even then there are two stories abouts its origins.
The first variant assumes that the miners (carbonieri) made a tasty pasta recipe with the few resources they had at the end of the 2nd world war. The black pepper would then refer to the coal dust of the miners.
But another theory seems more credible. And that states that it is basically an Italian-American creation. At the end of the Second World War, there was a shortage of everything. But the US Army ordered something simple and tasty to cook to lift the mood of the soldiers. In distress, the cook of the Americans sought help from Renato Gualandi, an Italian cook.
The first carbonara was therefore made with spaghetti and ingredients of the soldiers' rations. These contained dried milk, eggs and canned foods like cheese and meat. But it tasted so well that soon the recipe started a worldwide conquest.
When the war was over, the rations were soon replaced by Italian quality products: fresh eggs, ground Parmesan or Pecorino and guanciale. The latter is the bacon of a pork cheek (guancia means cheek in Italian). However, you will not find this in the supermarket. That is why spaghetti carbonara is often made with classic bacon or bacon strips as a replacement.
The don't s of pasta carbonara
Or, how to drive Italian people crazy. First of all, forget additions like onion or garlic. An authentic pasta carbonara has only four ingredients. Furthermore, no frills.
And also cream is absolurely a no-go. The Italians like a dry pasta, with a little sauce sticking to it. Not as we often see in other regions, where the pasta is swimming in the sauce. The egg and Parmesan mixture should be just sticky enough to adhere to the pasta. You should be able to eat it only with a fork. And sauce with a fork is more than a challenge.
Does this mean you are not allowed to use these or other ingredients? Of course not. As long as it tastes well everyone is allowed to cook according to his/her own inspiration. Just don't think you are making orignal carbonara. That only happens when you use pasta, guanciale, Pecorino and eggs.
Read and watch more about pasta carbonara:
- Carbonara – Wikipedia
- Who invented carbonara (Life in Italy)
- A mystery solved: Gualandi’s invention of carbonara (Youtube film van Barilla)
- De 10 geboden van carbonara (Eatalian with Roberto)
- What is guanciale (the Spruce Eats).
Italian cuisine excels in simplicity and taste. So no surprise that we are a big fan of it. Here you will find more Italian classics that anyone can make:
- Sicilian tuna pasta with fried capersSicilian tuna pasta with fried caper.
- Linguini alla puttanesca.
- Vegetarian gnocchi with yellow bell pepper.
- Delicious seafood fricassee.
- Salsiccia with fennel ratatouille.
If you speak Dutch, you can find the Dutch version of this recipe on gerechtenweb.blog.