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True Italian Carbonara Recipe

True Italian Carbonara Recipe

“Is it the True Italian Carbonara Recipe?” It’s what my daughter always asks before ordering her favorite pasta, every time we go to an Italian restaurant. Why? Because some people add cream to the original Carbonara recipe and this is prohibited under the eyes of an Italian.

Carbonara is one of those dishes very easy to love. It’s one of the popular and iconic dish from Rome and the Lazio region, and one of the classic Italian dishes known around the world. In Rome, you can find Carbonara in trattorias and restaurants. Even gourmet chefs include this dish in their menus as part of the Italian culinary culture.

Legends of the Carbonara

There are a good number of legends of the origins of Carbonara. Rome, Bologna, and Napoli are among the cities claiming this dish to be theirs. However, I’m going to share the one that is most accredited among all: the Roman- American history.

This recipe begins to appear from 1944. It is said that it was originated during the Second World War, when the Allied soldiers engaged on the Reinhard line, between Lazio, Molise and Campania. With the severe food shortfall, a marriage of traditions happened between the egg and bacon, typical American breakfast ingredients and pasta with cacio (cheese) already common in Italy for hundreds of years.

Did you know?

  • La Cucina Italiana claimed to be the one of the first to publish a recipe for the Carbonara, printed for the first time in our August 1954 issue.

A True Italian Carbonara Recipe

Because of its simplicity and the richness of the raw materials, a good Carbonara is a matter of using the best true ingredients, which are guanciale, pecorino romano cheese, fresh eggs (you’ll use only the yolk) and freshly ground black pepper.

For a true Italian Carbonara result, buying guanciale (Italian cured meat product from pork jowl or cheeks) and Pecorino Romano cheese from an Italian Deli and using tonnarelli or spaghetti (made in Italy) are the way to go.

However, if you are not able to buy the typical Italian products and wondering how to enjoy this dish from the comfort of your home, using pancetta (cured pork product from the belly) or bacon (smoked pancetta) and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese will do it.

It is important to clarify that additions to the true, classic, legendary Carbonara recipe such as cream, garlic or onion are absolutely prohibited.

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 1 pound/ ½ kilo spaghetti, rigatoni or any long pasta
  • 150 gm guanciale, pancetta or bacon (preferably hardwood smoked bacon)
  • 50 gm grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 4 very fresh egg yolks
  • Salt and black pepper

Put a large pot of salted water to boil to cook the pasta. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook it al dente by following the recommended cooking time from the box.

Cut the guanciale into slices and then into small strips. If you are using pancetta or bacon, cut the slices into small strips. Brown the strips until crisp in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Be careful not to burn it.

In the meantime, pour the egg yolks into a bowl and combine them with most of the pecorino or parmiggiano cheese and a pinch of black pepper. The remainder cheese will be used to garnish the pasta. Mix everything with a hand whisk and set aside.

Drain the pasta al dente and pour it directly in the pan with the bacon and sauté it briefly to flavor it. In the warm pan with the hot pasta, pour the mixture of eggs and Pecorino into the pan. Stir quickly to mix. The eggs will cook gently and become creamy. It is important to do this part quickly to prevent the yolks from congealing and taking on the texture of scrambled eggs.

Serve immediately and flavor it with the remaining cheese and, if desired, add more ground black pepper to taste.

Tip: If you want to make the Carbonara very creamy, you can add a little cooking water from the pasta into the mix of egg yolks, cheese and black pepper

Note: Photo from Luca Nebuloni

True, Classic and Legendary

As you can see, making Carbonara starts with ingredients that you normally have at home and it is much simpler than what you might have thought.

You may find many other Carbonara recipes, but this one is the True, Classic and Legendary one. And after you make it once, it will become your new favorite comfort food.

Buon appetito!

Just Love Italy

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Mirlay Castillo

3 thoughts on “True Italian Carbonara Recipe

  1. Hi Mirlay, I love your website! It is very informative and easy to follow. I love pasta but never tried Carbonara before, probably because I didnt know what was in it. I pretty much like all the ingredients so no reason why I wouldnt try it. I thought the history was very interesting too. The one thing I don’t think I would use is pig jowl, just the name of it turns me off. Rather I would substitute bacon and I think I would be fine. Thanks again for sharing your Love of Italy with me. Kerry Lee

    1. Hi Kerry, I am very happy that you enjoyed the website. We do carbonara with bacon at home, however, a better option when we find it, we use pancetta. I hope you enjoy it. Cheers.

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