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Classic Creamy Carbonara with Pancetta

Last modified on October 17th, 2018 at 3:06 pm

With just a few quality ingredients, our Classic Creamy Carbonara is simple, elegant and guaranteed to make your eyes roll back in pure bliss with every bite.

When it comes to traditional Italian pastas, it seems the simplest and ones with the fewest ingredients are often the most delicious and beautiful. Pomodoro pastas are made using tomatoes and basil, Puttanesca uses tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic and anchovies, Cacio e Pepe is just cheese and pepper, and our favourite, Creamy Carbonara is made using just eggs, pecorino Romano, cured pork and pepper.

Plate of spaghetti carbonara with a fork

When you travel Italy and really take in the culture of food, you notice the appreciation they have for simple and beautiful ingredients and meals. These simple dishes are the ones where you get the best tomatoes, you use fresh herbs instead of dried, and you get the real cheese as opposed to the stuff you sprinkle on. When you use the best, you will get amazing results, and it forces you to slow down and truly appreciate the food you are eating.

Ingredients for a classic spaghetti carbonara

If there was one dish to sum up my experience in Italy this past May, it’s Creamy Carbonara. In between gelato, cannoli and all the americanos, this simple and elegant dish consisting of bacon, eggs and pasta was literally my food version of a summer romance. Every menu, every restaurant in Rome, if Carbonara was on the menu, it was being ordered.

“Just a handful of ingredients makes a fantastic carbonara and, done properly, it’s a thing of beauty. ” – Jamie Oliver

Reminiscing on my love affair, Carbonara is a pasta dish consisting of eggs,  bacon (pancetta or guanciale), pecorino cheese, black pepper and pasta, and has climbed the charts as my favourite Italian dish. While made with simple ingredients, the elegance of this dish is all in the technique.

Presenting the finished classic carbonara

Two plates of spaghetti carbonara with garlic cloves

How to Make Creamy Carbonara

Boil the water: Get a large pot of water and salt it heavily. If you taste the water, it should taste like the sea. Bring the water to a boil and toss in the pasta to cook until it’s tender but still a little firm to the bite. This is what Italian’s call al dente.

Cook the Pork: Place your cubed pancetta or guanciale in a large skillet with a whole clove of garlic and then place on your stove at medium heat. You start the meat in a cold pan so that the fat renders out and the meat remains tender. You are going to cook this until the meat is browned but not crispy. It should take about 4-5 minutes for guanciale or 5-7 minutes for pancetta. Remove and discard the garlic, then add the black pepper.

Mix the Eggs: While the pork is cooking, get a small bowl, crack the eggs into it, add a handful of grated pecorino Romano and beat them until well combined.

Grinding pepper into a skillet of cooking pancetta
Pouring eggs into the pasta for spaghetti carbonara

Add the Spaghetti: Once the pork is cooked, reserve about a half cup of the pasta water, drain the spaghetti and toss into the skillet with the pancetta. Stir the spaghetti until it begins to soak up the pancetta fat then add a good splash of the pasta water.

Make some Magic: While stirring and tossing the pasta, pour in the eggs. Keep tossing, incorporating the eggs into the water until it forms a creamy and glossy sauce around the spaghetti. You can add a couple more splashes of water as necessary. Serve with an additional sprinkling of pecorino and a few twists of black pepper.

Plating spaghetti carbonara using tongs
Sprinkling cheese onto a plate of carbonara

A plate of half eaten spaghetti carbonara

Print

Classic Creamy Carbonara with Pancetta

Two plates of spaghetti carbonara

With just a few quality ingredients and taking about 20 minutes to make, our Classic Creamy Carbonara is simple, elegant and guaranteed to make your eyes roll back in pure bliss with every bite. It’s the perfect dinner for after work or when you need a quick meal on the weekends.

  • Author: Chef Sous Chef
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Food and Drink, Main
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh or dry spaghetti
  • 200g pancetta diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, skin in tact and smashed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 75g pecorino romano, grated
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

No. 1 | Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (tender but still firm to the bite). Do not drain the pasta.

No. 2 | In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and three quarters of the grated pecorino.

No. 3 | Place the pancetta and garlic clove in a large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring every minute, until the pancetta has browned, but not crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic, then add the black pepper.

No. 4 | Reserving about a half cup of the pasta water, drain the spaghetti and add it to the pancetta. Toss until the spaghetti is coated with the pancetta fat. Remove from heat and add about a ⅓ cup of the pasta water.

No. 5 | While stirring and tossing the pasta, pour in the eggs, continuing to toss until the spaghetti is well coated and glossy. Add additional pasta water if necessary, to get a creamy consistency.

No. 6 | To serve, use tongs to pick up a good serving of pasta. Place the tongs on a large spoon and twist to wrap them in the spaghetti. Place the spaghetti on a plate while twisting and slowly release the tongs, leaving a serving that resembles a bird’s nest. Sprinkle with additional pecorino Romano and black pepper.

Notes

Traditionally, carbonara would be made with guanciale, which can be found in many butchers and Italian grocers. We have used pancetta as it is easy to find in most grocery stores.

Keywords: Easy pasta recipes, carbonara recipe, carbonara

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4 Comments

  • Reply Kerry A September 18, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Carbonara is my favorite pasta! I love the simplicity of this recipe. Making it tonight.

    • Reply Chef Sous Chef September 18, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks Kerry. We couldn’t agree more 😉

  • Reply sheenam | thetwincookingproject.net September 25, 2018 at 12:11 am

    This pasta looks so good. Your pictures are so beautiful! Trying this recipe super soon.

    • Reply Chef Sous Chef September 25, 2018 at 8:31 am

      Thanks so much Sheenam! Let us know what you think once you make the recipe 😊

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