Carbonara is a traditional pasta dish from Rome. Some sources date it as far back as ancient Rome, while others say it was a post-WWII invention. There is as much controversy over how the name came about. ‘Carbone’ is Italian for coal, and some say this dish is named for the charcoal makers or coal miners with whom it was popular. Whatever its origin, authentic carbonara includes eggs, black pepper, guanciale (pork cheek) and parmesan or Pecorino. It should be eaten as soon as it’s mixed, while it’s still hot.
- 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 200 gm guanciale (see note), finely chopped
- 6 egg yolks
- 3 eggwhites
- 25 gm finely grated parmesan (1/3 cup)
- 25 gm finely grated Pecorino (1/3 cup)
- 500 gm spaghetti
1Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add guanciale and sauté over medium heat until crisp and set aside.
2In a large bowl whisk together egg yolks and whites. Add parmesan and Pecorino and season with freshly ground black pepper.
3Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving some cooking water.
4Add spaghetti to egg mixture with guanciale and oil and mix quickly to combine, adding cooking water if pasta is too dry. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
Note Guanciale is cured pork cheek, available from Italian delicatessens and butchers. Pancetta is the nearest substitute.