March 4, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara, or, as Mario Batali explains it, spaghetti in the style of the coal miner's wife. What? That seems to make very little sense. In fact, the idea is that the coal miner, upon arriving at home, dusty with coal, would sit down to a nice bowl of pasta prepared by his wife. The dust would get in the spaghetti. The heavy use of fresh pepper in the sauce reminds us of those flakes of coal dust.

Take it with a grain of salt (or pepper!).

In any case, this is another very traditional dish that you'll see in a lot of restaurants and it's easy to make at home. The trick though, is that while it is common to see this dish made with cream, that's not the traditional way of making it. The traditional way involves no cream, but rather the use of egg and pasta water to create a rich creamy sauce.

Click through to see how we did it!

Making the Dish

Adding our spaghetti to the pot.

To start, get a pot of water boiling, and add a touch of salt. Add in your spaghetti, and cook. This time you'll cook it for the full length of the package directions. 

Wait, is that bacon over there? 

Then prepare your ingredients. They're quite simple - bacon and egg. Dice up your bacon and then throw it into a frying pan, cooking it until it's crispy and golden brown. 

The bacon starts to cook, and smells delicious. 

In a large bowl, take two of your eggs, and add in the egg whites only. Keep the yolks on the side for later. Add in a third egg in full, and beat the entire thing together.

Use the shell to help separate the yolk from the whites. 
Let the yolks rest in their shells for later use. 

When the bacon is done, take it out and put it on a paper towel, to let it cool. Let it cool for as long as possible, and right before the spaghetti is done, place the bacon in another bowl and add a small amount of your egg mixture, stirring them together furiously. Why do you do this? The point is to make sure the bacon is cool enough to not cook the egg completely. Otherwise, you'll end up with chunks of egg rather than a creamy sauce.

Bacon at its finest. 
Once the bacon is combined with the egg, pour that mixture back into your larger bowl and stirthem all together. Again, stir furiously so that no egg chunks form. 

Herbie helps as Bryan stirs the bacon and egg together. 

When the pasta is done, add your spaghetti directly from the water into the egg and bacon mixture. Throw in a half cup of pecorino or parmesan cheese, and a tablespoon or two of freshly grated black pepper. Then toss it all around until the cheese and egg mixture is combined, the egg is cooked, and the pasta is well coated. If your sauce isn't loose enough, you can add a touch of the pasta water. Add more salt and pepper to taste. 

The spaghetti is dropped into the bowl of egg and bacon mixture. 
Take a scoop of this and put it in a warm pasta bowl. Make a little nest for the egg yolk, and put it right in there. Top with extra pepper and cheese and serve. The guest can break up the yolk and stir it around into the spaghetti to make it even creamier. 

The Result

What comes out is a classic dish, with a creamy sauce made of no cream. It's flavorful and robust, yet pretty simple. And this recipe, with all its simplicity, is truly restaurant grade. You'll be quite impressed with your work!

Spaghetti Carbonara

A pasta dish with few ingredients but lots of flavor

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:

(Serves: 2)

1/2 lb spaghetti
1 cup pecorino romano
5 strips bacon
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
dash salt to taste


  1. this sounds really good it makes me hungry lol i will use this

  2. I am going to have to try this at some point, looks awesome. I love Herbie, reminds me of my Cyril, who also like to try and climb into the fridge to scavenge for food.

  3. Haha, thanks! Yes, Herbie loves the fridge :)

  4. I tried this tonight and loved it, Will have to make it for my bf when he is better. Cyril kept nicking the bacon off the paper towel little scoundrel.

  5. So glad to hear this recipe worked out for you!! Herbie also loves to steal freshly cooked bacon... :)

  6. I'm making something similar for dinner tonight....
    what a lovely photo.

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  7. This looks amazing! I think I’ll add some veggies (zucchini & spinach).

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