The exact origins of spaghetti carbonara are somewhat uncertain, as there are multiple theories about its creation. However, it is widely believed to have originated in the Lazio region of Italy, particularly in Rome, during or after World War II.
One theory suggests that spaghetti carbonara was created by Italian charcoal workers (carbonai) in the Apennine mountains. The story goes that they would cook pasta, typically spaghetti, over a fire and mix it with eggs, cheese, and guanciale (cured pork jowl). The heat from the pasta would cook the eggs, creating a creamy sauce.
Another theory points to the American soldiers stationed in Italy during World War II as the inspiration for carbonara. It is said that they often had access to bacon and eggs, which they combined with pasta to create a simple and flavorful dish. Over time, the recipe evolved to incorporate local ingredients like pecorino cheese and guanciale.
Regardless of its exact origins, spaghetti carbonara became popular in Rome and eventually spread throughout Italy and internationally. It is now considered a classic Italian pasta dish and is enjoyed by many people around the world.
The traditional recipe for spaghetti carbonara typically includes ingredients such as spaghetti pasta, eggs, pecorino Romano cheese, guanciale or pancetta (Italian bacon), black pepper, and sometimes salt. The eggs and cheese are mixed together to create a creamy sauce, which is then combined with the cooked pasta and crispy guanciale or pancetta. The heat from the pasta cooks the eggs, resulting in a rich and velvety sauce that coats the noodles.
Spaghetti Carbonara (Spaghetti with guanciale and eggs)
- 8 ounces (225 grams) spaghetti
- 4 ounces (115 grams) bacon, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the cooked pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced pancetta or bacon and cook until crispy and browned. Remove from the skillet and set aside, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet.
- In the same skillet, add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute until fragrant. Remove the skillet from heat.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, grated cheese, and a pinch of black pepper.
- Return the drained spaghetti to the pot it was cooked in. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over the hot pasta, and quickly toss to coat the strands evenly. The residual heat will cook the eggs gently and create a creamy sauce. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little of the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
- Add the cooked pancetta or bacon to the pasta, and toss to combine. The heat from the pasta will warm the pancetta.
- Taste and season with salt if needed, keeping in mind that the pancetta and cheese are already salty.
- Serve the spaghetti carbonara immediately, garnished with chopped parsley and additional grated cheese if desired.