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14 January 2012

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

After doing the amatriciana bianca or gricia, this other classic pasta dish was just waiting to be fixed in my kitchen.  Both gricia and spaghetti alla carbonara are very similar to each other because of the use of guanciale and pancetta but the latter has eggs and a lot of pepper because carbonara refers to charcoal. 

If you like gricia, then most likely you would also like this pasta because the most dominant flavor is the pancetta (unless you don't like eggs).  Some recipes would include cream to attain the creaminess of the sauce but most Italians would shake their heads on that with horrified expressions.  Cream is not commonly used in Italian cooking (my relief on that!).  Instead, to attain the creaminess in the sauce, you have to whisk the cheese and eggs well and avoid cooking the eggs.  

Enjoy this simple and classic pasta!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Serves 4
  • 400 grams spaghetti
  • 200 grams pancetta (or guanciale), diced
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 50 grams pecorino romano
  • 50 grams parmigiano reggiano (optional, you can also use just pecorino romano instead of dividing 50-50 with the cheeses)
  • black pepper
  1. Boil water for the pasta.  When it boils, add some salt then the pasta.  Follow the cooking time suggested in the package.  
  2. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks, egg, pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano.  Whisk well.
  3. In a saucepan, toast the pancetta until they become crunchy.  Turn off the fire.  
  4. When the pasta is cooked, transfer to a big bowl.  Pour the egg & cheese mixture immediately.  Add the pancetta with a little bit of its oil.  Mix well.  
  5. Sprinkle a lot of pepper or according to taste.  
  6. *Note: The eggs should be mixed with the pasta away from the fire to avoid cooking of the eggs.  They should cook slowly with the heat of the pasta and remain creamy. 


  1. I didn't know cream was not often used in pasta dishes. This dish looks gorgeous...simple and delicious.

    1. Cream is not frequently used in pasta dishes but still used anyhow. The popular ones are always the very simple ones with straightforward ingredients. Thanks for passing by!

  2. Next to a good bolognese ragu, this is my favorite pasta dish. I appreciate your authentic preparation--wish guanciale were as easy to come by in San Francisco. I keep meaning to make my own just so I can make carbonara or pasta all'amatriciana. Your carbonara looks perfect. :)

    1. Hi Jean. If you can't find guanciale, then maybe your best bet is pancetta (affumicata/smoked if you can). Between the two, there is a difference of taste but pancetta is still good anyway. I know how frustrating it is when you can't find the right ingredients. I have been looking for some chorizo here but I can't find any! Good luck with your guanciale quest.


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