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Spaghetti Carbonara

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey forum,

 

does anyone have a decent Spaghetti Carbonara recipe? 

 

thanks, William

post #2 of 12
1/4 dry spaghetti
2oz pancetta, small dice( any bacon, prosciutto, or ham can be substituted)
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
Grated parm
salt and pepper

This goes fast, so make sure everything is ready. Scramble the eggs with a pinch of parm and set aside. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the spaghetti. While the spaghetti is cooking, sautee the pancetta in a little bit of olive oil. Turn off the heat and wait for the spaghetti. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain the water and toss it in the pan with the pancetta and oil. Now dump the eggs over the pasta and continue to toss. The heat from the spaghetti will cook the eggs. If it's too soupy, turn the heat back on while mixing the pasta constantly. If you heat them too much, you'll end up with scrambled egg pasta( which still tastes fine). Usually this isn't a problem if you put everything together fast enough that you don't need the extra heat. Finish with some more parm and salt n pepper.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #3 of 12

What makes carbonara carbonara?  Enough freshly ground, coarse black pepper to make the dish look like it's been sprinkled with chimney soot.  In carbonara, pepper is not simply a seasoning, it's a primary component of the dish. 

 

When I was single and in and out of college -- or, maybe it was when I was in college and in and out of single -- I learned that food was a way to a woman's affections, and carbonara was one of my seduction staples.  It's more than comfort food, if made at all well, it will have a rich, sensual mouthfeel.

 

Serve with a crisp, well-chilled, white wine to offset some of that richness.  Pinot gris (pinot grigio) and Brut sparklers are particularly good candidates, but so are a lot of others.   

 

If you're an "ingredient-driven" cook, you'll see that this is as simple as simple gets -- which means you want best quality everything.  Good bacon is pretty easy for most of us, but you want to make sure your eggs are very fresh and that you're using best quality cheese and pasta.  This is one of those things, so don't settle.

 

The method I use doesn't require cooking the eggs over a flame, but only uses residual heat.  In that way, the eggs don't overcook.  But because of the technique and timing, they are fully cooked through.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb best quality, dried spaghetti; or 1-1/2 lb fresh, homemade linguini
  • Salt
  • 6 slices thick-sliced bacon; or preferably guanciale, pancetta, or slab bacon in an equivalent, 6oz amount.  Guanciale is my first choice, smoky bacon, although not "authentic," is my second
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 3 XL eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup freshly grated, best quality Parmesan (preferably Parmaggiano-Reggiano, preferably)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, about
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (Optional) frozen baby peas

 

Technique:

Bring enough salted water to the boil to cook the spaghetti.

 

While the water heats, either dice the "bacon" or cut bite sized ribbons -- depending on how your butcher sliced it.

 

Put the olive oil and bacon into a large cold pan, put it over medium heat and allow the fat to render and the lardon (excuse my French) to crisp.  Note:  The pan must be large enough to hold all of the drained spaghetti.

 

When the bacon is crisp, remove the pan from the heat.  Remove the bacon from the oil with a slotted spoon, and wet it on a towel to drain.  Pour off some of the fat/oil mixture so that you have about 3-4 tbs left in the pan.  Set the pan on the stove, over an unlit or barely lit burner.

 

"Drop" the spaghetti into the salted water.  Taste it for salt, during your testing stage. 

 

While the spaghetti cooks, break the eggs into a serving or large mixing bowl and beat them with a whisk or fork until the whites and yolks are fully incorporated.  Stir one third of the cheese into the eggs. Chop the parsley.

 

When the spaghetti is a couple of minutes from done, light the burner under the fat/oil, and preheat at medium-high.  You want it hot, but not smoking.

 

When the spaghetti is al dente, drain it.  After it's well drained (you want as much water off as possible), put the pasta into the hot fat.  Use tongs to turn it and make sure the pasta is well coated.

 

Turn the pasta out of the pan into the serving dish, on top of the eggs.  Pepper it generously.  The pepper should be sufficiently coarse and in a sufficient quantity that it will be visible.  Add half of the remaining cheese (1/3 of the total), along with most of the chopped parsley and the optional peas.  Toss, so all is combined.  

 

Whether you plate or serve "family style" from the serving dish -- garnish with the remaining parsley and a bit more pepper.  If no cheese is visibly adhering to the pasta, you may want to sprinkle a bit more on top so the diners can taste it with their eyes.  Pass the remaining cheese at table. 

 

Be prepared to get lucky.

 

Enjoy,

BDL

 

PS.  This recipe is original with me.  If you decide you want to share, print or re-post on your own blog (but not for commercial gain), you may do so on condition that you credit it to me, Boar D. Laze.

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What were we talking about?
 
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post #4 of 12

I was curious about the smoked or as they call it here, sweet pancetta. 

Most of the Italian websites say pancetta affumicata (smoked) for carbonara, and guanciale (not smoked) for amatraciana. 

Now, i don't really care and people do what they want, but technically, it seems, to be "authentic" it should be smoked. 

Which makes sense if you consider that the carbonari are those who make charcoal, and charcoal is made by smoking the wood (burning it in a closed container). 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 12
Thanks for filling in the blanks on the technique. Didn't have time to get very detailed this morning. What I really am interested in is your comment about the pepper. I have never heard that before, though it does make perfect sense.

I did read a long time ago that the dish dates back to one of the world wars. After American troops pulled out of Italy there was a surplus of eggs and bacon from the soldiers rations. This recipe was one of the ways people found to use the surplus. I cannot remember my source for this, just thought that I would share and maybe some one can confirm this, or set me straight.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #6 of 12
This should clear it up. Looks like there are several possible origins, of course, and like so many others,I guess will never know.

http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/topic_id/4/id/117/
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #7 of 12

Interesting link, sparkie. 

I'm just here with my coffee so this digression is really just idle chat - not so much about food. 

 

I heard the allied troops theory of origin of carbonara - though why would it be called carbonara then?  It;s true that the american troops were particularly generous when  they came to italy and were shocked at the poverty they found.  I know people who were children then and they would go, barefoot, (you carried your shoes to church, and put them on only inside, they were too valuable to wear out) to a place just outside the american camp, where kind soldiers would put all their leftovers for them to take.  These kids' families, who were poor enough to be getting food from the troops, would be too poor to have pasta, which was a sort of luxury food back then.  (My mother in law used to work in her father's grocery store and the pasta was sold loose - poor families ate soup with bread, and she says how one poor woman's kids asked her to buy pasta, and she patiently told them pasta was only for special occasions like christmas.  Poverty was poverty back then, and the war took what little there was away and people were hungry).

 

The question of the origin is tied to the name "carbonara" - which would be the feminine of "charcoal maker" - so the wife of the carbonaro would make this. (Like risotto alla pescatora is risotto the fisherman's wife would make).   Carbonaro is often shortened to "carbonaio"

 

Carbone means both coal and charcoal, and i think one of the various hypotheses in the link talks of coal miners, so that's not very likely.  Why would coal miners make a bacon and egg pasta dish?  Anyway, coal miners were not called "carbonai"  they were called "minatori" so it would be pasta alla minatora. 

 

There are actually two meanings of "carbonaro" - one is the people who made charcoal - poor people in the woods who chopped wood, made huge piles of it, smoked it down, etc, and then carried it on baskets tied to the back to the houses.  The smoking of charcoal makes me think maybe that's why they called it "spaghetti alla carbonara", not so much because carbonari actually ate it, but because of the smoked bacon.  Of course, it could be because of the black dust that must have gotten everywhere and is imitated by the black pepper.   Or both. Maybe you can see this link:  http://www.bdp.it/parco/percorsi/carbonai/frame-carbonai.htm

 

The other meaning of "carbonari" or "carbonai" is a secret underground political group in the period of risorgimento - the stirrings of the beginnings of Italian unity -  that called themselves "charcoal makers" because apparently they hid in the woods and pretended to be carbonari.  It's conceivable that the name was given for them.  Here is a picture of these other carbonai: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.ilculturista.it/cultura/wp-content/uploads/07_02.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.ilculturista.it/cultura/%3Fp%3D4935&h=300&w=255&sz=38&tbnid=YOM8DwlkI613JM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=77&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dcarbonari%2BOR%2Bcarbonai%2Bsite:.it%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=carbonari+OR+carbonai+site:.it&docid=93wSlXYzC9CZCM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=GLsfT6-jMcbRswbTzdDFDA&ved=0CHQQ9QEwCQ&dur=14548

I just checked Ada Boni's Talismano della Felicita' and she doesn't specify what kind of pancetta, but has you first sautee an onion in butter with the pancetta.  How "authentic" is Ada Boni?  Who knows.  What does "authentic" mean anyway?  who knows.  I'll go for "tastes good" over "authentic", although it is nice to try the original recipes of things.  


Edited by siduri - 1/25/12 at 12:52am
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #8 of 12

The basic carbonara is, from what I've read and heard about the dish, just five ingredients: spaghetti, pecorino, eggs, guanciale and black pepper. However, I've seen Italian sources mention the use of smoked bacon instead of guanciale, adding a bit of cream (Jo Bettoja mentions that some Romans do this), substituting a part of pecorino with parmesan (the Roman pecorino is always, however, the cheese of choice) if one finds the former too sharp, adding some parsley and Marcella Hazan even mentions adding white wine. But I always make it with just the five basic ingredients, except that I use smoked bacon instead of guanciale since I can't find any guanciale in my area. I guess Romans use guaciale since smoked bacon isn't too common in Italy except in Trentino.

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slayertplsko View Post I guess Romans use guaciale since smoked bacon isn't too common in Italy except in Trentino.


Actually, I can find smoked pancetta in every supermarket and even the little local grocery stores (and i don;t live in a fancy area with specialty shops)  - not sure of the rest of italy, but in Rome, i can find it anywhere.  At least today.  Is it traditional here?  i don;t know.  Maybe you;re thinking of the smoked prosciutto in alto adige - speck.  Though they have that here too, now.  (When i first came here, there was little exchange of cuisines even within Italy, and most Romans didn;t even know what pesto was.  I saw my first sun-dried tomato in the states - same for balsamic vinegar. 

 

Are you Slovakian, slayertpisko?  If so, your English is perfect.  I hope you can share some local recipes. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #10 of 12

Oh boy do I hate when the discussion about food turns toward authenticity.  I don't care about authenticity I care about flavor.  In light of that here is my favorite carbonara recipe.  My trick is to reserve some of the pasta cooking water so that I can loosen up the sauce if necessary.  I dislike pancetta and always use american smoked bacon instead.

 

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/beautiful-courgette-carbonara

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

Oh boy do I hate when the discussion about food turns toward authenticity.  I don't care about authenticity I care about flavor.  In light of that here is my favorite carbonara recipe.  My trick is to reserve some of the pasta cooking water so that I can loosen up the sauce if necessary.  I dislike pancetta and always use american smoked bacon instead.

 

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/beautiful-courgette-carbonara


I agree Koukouvagia, and one of the worst meals I've had recently was at a "slow food" restaurant that claimed to have researched its menus from  authentic traditional regional peasant food.  My dish tasted like they had put grass clippings and pine needles in it. 

 

But it's interesting to me to search for the origins of a dish or a name.  And in some cases the name denotes a specific dish made a specific way.  No reason it can;t be called bacon and egg pasta instead of carbonara.  And in some cases i get irritated when people insist a dish is authentic when it's so far from the culinary tradition it claims to be from that it's ridiculous.  I also only care if it's good, but why claim it's authentic if it isn't.  Often a variation on the authentic is an improvement.  

 

The only reason i wouldn;t use american smoked bacon is i've only found it sliced, and i like the thick chunks.  But I like the taste.   

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #12 of 12

XOXOX

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 1/29/12 at 9:32pm
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What were we talking about?
 
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