Today is international Carbonara Day.
What is Carbonara, and why do we have an international Carbonara day?
Well, spaghetti alla carbonara is a recipe that historically has not been well understood, even in Italy itself. It calls for very few ingredients, but many amateur chefs (as well as a couple of well known ones) always seem to add on something or other. Last year on this day a French cooking video started circulating on the web, giving a very appalling version of the berated recipe… This created quite a stir in Italy and the international carbonara day is the result.
What do we need for a good carbonara?
- Very good durum wheat pasta – (De Cecco, Barilla, Rummo), spaghetti or rigatoni
- Guanciale – cured pork cheek, which is difficult to find even in Rome, so we are allowed to use Bacon as a substitute
- Pecorino Romano cheese – please note that while Parmigiano Reggiano is a great cheese, it has nothing to do with carbonara.
- Salt and pepper
That’s it? Yes. That’s it.
NO cream, NO garlic, NO onion, No extra virgin olive oil, NO LEMON…. nothing else.
For 4 people you will need 400gr of pasta, 200gr bacon, 3 eggs and 200gr grated Pecorino Romano cheese. You will need a large pot to cook the pasta in and a large skillet to fry the bacon first and toss the pasta later.
Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water according to instructions on the packet, drain it saving about a cup of water on the side. Cut the bacon in stripes and fry it in its own fat, then toss the cooked pasta in the pan. Add the beaten eggs and the grated Pecorino Romano cheese and continue tossing for a minute adding two spoonfuls of the saved pasta cooking water. The eggs, with the bacon fat and the cheese will create the sauce. Add some black pepper, Buon Appetito!
PS Some people will let the eggs cook…. well this is a no-no.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Spaghetti (or Rigatoni) alla Carbonara is a very easy and quick way to prepare a meal that the family will enjoy - except for vegetarians or vegans, I'm afraid...
The idea is that of having the pasta cooking while you prepare the sauce, so the cooking time refers mainly to the pasta's cooking time.
Bacon is an acceptable substitute for guanciale (cured pork cheek) very difficult to find outside of certain areas of Italy.
As for pasta, Barilla, De Cecco, Rummo or Voiello are good quality pasta.
- 400 gr spaghetti De Cecco, Barilla, Rummo
- 200 gr bacon
- 3 eggs
- 200 gr pecorino cheese grated
- black pepper to taste
Put a large pot of water to heat until it boils, then add salt and pasta and cook according to instructions on the packet.
Beat the eggs with a fork in a deep plate, slowly adding the grated Pecorino cheese.
Strain the pasta al dente and save about 1 cup of the cooking water.
Cut the bacon in strips and fry it in its own fat in a large skillet, then toss the cooked pasta in the pan, add the beaten eggs and the grated cheese and continue tossing. Add a couple of spoonfuls of cooking water.
You can add some black pepper to taste