#104 spaghetti alla carbonara

There’s no denying the magical touch bacon can give any given meal, and Carbonara is one of the simplest, yet most exquisite examples of bacon doing the job just right.  This Italian pasta dish from Rome is made with eggs, bacon, & black pepper.  What more do you need, right?  It’s usually made with spaghetti, but fettuccine, rigatoni, linguine or bucatini can also be used.

For the preparation, there are a few key steps that should be respected.  The bacon, or any type of pork is first fried in a fat, most commonly olive oil, of course. Guanciale and pancetta are the most commonly used meat for the dish in Italy, so if you can get your hands on some of that yummy goodness, GREAT!  A mixture of raw eggs, a grated hard cheese – such as Pecorino Romano or Parmesano – and ground black pepper is combined with the hot pasta, first removed from any direct heat to avoid curdling the eggs.  The fried pork is then added and the mixture is tossed, creating an amazingly creamy sauce.  It’s both a science & an art form: Italian chemistry at its best!

As far as the name goes, the word derives from carbonaro, the Italian word for charcoal burner.  Some believe the dish was initially prepared as a hearty meal for the so-called Italian charcoal workers, and first appeared in English cookbooks around the 50s after being popularized when it was said to be sought by American officers after the allied liberation of Rome in 1944.  It was also described after the war as a Roman dish, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the United States.

For the Carbonara

  • 1 pound of spaghetti or linguine
  • 6 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • 3 large eggs
  • Salt & black pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup of mixed grated Parmesan & Romano

Cook the spaghetti or linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a small skillet, stirring occasionally until crisp.  Very carefully add the white wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated.  Separately, beat together the eggs with the salt & pepper to taste and the cheese.  Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot.  Immediately add the cheese mixture and the hot bacon and fat, stirring to coat thoroughly.  The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs.  Serve immediately with fresh crispy greens & some delicious garlic bread!


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