Spaghetti Carbonara

One of my favorite dishes is spaghetti alla carbonara. This pasta is prepared all over Italy   ; however the Romans claim it as their regional specialty. The carbonara sauce is made with olive oil, eggs, pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper and bacon or chopped guanciale. Bacon not smoked, in Italian is called guanciale and it is made from the pig’s jowl or cheeks; guanciale or non smoked bacon is mostly used. Chopped parsley is added for color and taste and used to garnish. 

This dish was first prepared after WWII, when the American Army occupied Italy  and the U.S.A. was sending among other needed food supplies, bacon and dry eggs; they were inexpensive and available in large quantities.

Housewives and cooks, utilizing the bacon, dry eggs and some cheese, composed a simple, new and delicious sauce for spaghetti: the carbonara.  

It is called Carbonara, which means “charcoal style”, because of the smoked smell of the cured bacon used when this dish was first prepared and because of the abundant quantity of black pepper used to conceal the taste of the smoked bacon, which gave the impression that was dusted with carbone, charcoal.  

A delicious, satisfying and nutritious dish, full of proteins and starches: in those days nobody was on a diet and cholesterol was an unknown word to most of the people! 

This easy dish can be prepared in a short time; make sure to serve it hot and immediately. Complete the dinner with a plain salad, fruits in season, a white dry wine, some Italian cookies and espresso coffee.  

Serves 4
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INGREDIENTS

·          1 lb. spaghetti 

·          3 tablespoons of olive oil 

·          1 small onion chopped 

·          ½ lb chopped guanciale 

·          6 tablespoons grated Pecorino cheese  

·          3 fresh egg yolks, at room temperature 

             ·           1 large egg at room temperature 

             ·          ½ cup of chopped parsley 

             ·          Salt and pepper to taste 


PREPARATION

 

In a 6 quart sauce pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoons of salt.

 

Place the oil in a skillet, over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and before they get colored add the bacon.

 

Cook the pasta al dente, following the manufacturer recommendations. At the same time, let the onion and bacon cook until the fat melts; then simmer at a very low heat, until ready to use.

In a large serving bowl beat the eggs 2 tablespoons of grated cheese, ½ of the parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

 

When the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta and reserve a cup of the cooking liquid.

Return spaghetti in the same pot and add the eggs and cheese mixture; the eggs will cook and get stuck to the hot pasta.

Add the bacon and onion and quickly mix it well until pasta and sauce are combined. Add 2 additional tablespoons of grated cheese, and some of the reserved water, enough to moisten the pasta to a creamy consistency.

Divide the spaghetti in 4 dishes and sprinkle each dish with the remaining cheese, garnish with parsley and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

 

My niece Mrs. Marzia Fiorilla adds into the frying bacon and onion some blanched artichokes’ hearts for extra taste and color.  

 

Carbonara con Carciofi

 

P.S.: My aunt Francesca, who preferred the eggs well cooked, mixed the spaghetti and the egg sauce over a medium heat, for just a minute or until the eggs would start to coagulate.

Then she would transfer the pasta in a large bowl and add the bacon, onions, cheese and some of the cooking liquid enough to moisten the pasta to a creamy consistency.

 

 Pasta Carbonara