The name for Spaghetta alla Carbonara may come from the Italian word carbone meaning “coal”, alluding to the freshly ground black pepper which is an essential finishing touch to this dish. Though the ingredients are few, it is imperative they are of good quality, especially the pasta. There are many interpretations of this famous dish but classically it is made by tossing very hot pasta in raw eggs and so cooking a sauce.
Servings: 4 as a main or 8 as an entrée
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
500g good quality dried spaghetti
¾ cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 whole bird’s-eye red chillies
125g pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 large fresh free range eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup (40g) parmesan cheese, freshly grated
freshly ground black pepper
- Bring at least four litres of water to the boil. Throw in a a good tablespoon of salt and immediately ease the pasta into it, moving it around with pasta tongs until all the strands are softened and submerged. Place a lid on until the water is boiling again, give a good stir with pasta tongs and continue to boil, uncovered, following the packet directions or until the pasta is al dente. Begin testing for doneness a couple of minutes before the packet directions say it will be done. Don’t add any oil to the water because it inibits the sauce from sticking to the pasta.
- Meanwhile warm olive oil in a small frying pan and add garlic, chillies and pancetta or bacon to the pan and cook gently so that the garlic doesn’t burn and the fat on the pancetta “melts”.
- Combine the eggs and parmesan in a small bowl and whisk together.
- All the action happens at the end of this dish so have a large serving bowl heated and ready. As soon as the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water, then put into this bowl. Remove the chillies (a gentle flavouring ingredient only) from the oil and pour the contents straight from the heat over the pasta with the bacon and then immediately follow with the egg and cheese mixture. Toss well and serve immediately topped with plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Lyndey’s Note: Using best quality pasta, pancetta or bacon and parmesan cheese as well as the freshest free range eggs will make this simple dish special. Once you know how to make a true spaghetti carbonara, you can always whip up a pasta dish without any special sauce in mind. You can use the principle of the eggs and cheese making the sauce and perhaps add some sliced mushrooms to the frypan with the garlic and chillies etc and some chopped asparagus spears to the pasta for the last two minutes. Or stir through some baby spinach or rocket at the end.
Wine: Spaghetti carbonara with its rich broad flavours can be a match for chardonnay unless you have hot chilli in it (which admittedly I love) so best to try a wine with less tannin like a viognier or a pinot gris
Watch Lyndey make another Fast & Fabulous pasta recipe on Youtube: Easy Cheat’s Rag Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil