Spaghetti carbonara is among the most famous dishes in Italian cuisine. They are part of the culinary tradition of Rome and Lazio, where in centuries past carbonari and woodcutters used to eat “cacio e ova”. That is, cheese and eggs… hard-boiled, obviously, the Carbonari weren’t stupid enough to go around with fresh eggs on them.
Indeed with carbonari… carbonara has nothing in common. Except for the name, which derives precisely from the resemblance between the abundant final pepper and a hypothetical dirty plate of charcoal dust. An eventuality that was anything but unlikely in Rome, where coal-fired stoves were still common until the 1950s. And where until the 1980s coal was by far the most widely used fuel for domestic heating.
Contrary to what many believe, spaghetti carbonara is not an ancient traditional dish. Without a doubt, it is a pasta with a clear Italian character, as demonstrated by the fact that there are very similar centuries-old recipes. See for all Sicilians Pasta with riquagghiuabout which we publish here The recipe dates back to 1700. However, the current spaghetti carbonara recipe is relatively recent: It dates back to about 75 years ago, at the end of World War II.. When the presence of American soldiers in Rome made it available in reasonable abundance powdered eggs and bacon. Foods in which, with time scarce, Roman innkeepers dove like fish. And which they then masterfully used to season the pasta, along with the inevitable pecorino Romano.
Today in Rome only pillow is usedbut many accept bacon (i.e. NOT smoked bacon).
About the cheeses, the recipe was born in Latium, therefore only pecorino Romano. Here too, tastes change over time and today many people prefer Parmesan. When evaluating, keep in mind that many chefs (perhaps even most… outside of Rome and Lazio) use a blend of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese.
As pasta, they are ideal spaghetti, preferably not finely cut like noodles or guitar spaghetti. Bucatini are also excellent, especially if you eat a lot of bacon, while only rigatoni is acceptable among shortcuts.
Many cooks (including Romans) fry the bacon together with a crushed clove of garlic, which they then remove before seasoning the pasta. It is also common to use a little fried onion along with the bacon. We say this for the record, but we do not understand the need to enrich a pasta that is already very rich in flavor with new flavors. Leave it alone: Better to avoid both garlic and onion.
Further However, the question of cremation is controversial.. In general, most chefs recommend mixing eggs and pasta away from heat. And if even a master like Gualtiero Marchesi (the great chef who died in 2017) agreed on this point, it is really difficult for us to disagree.
However, with a little pragmatism, without impositions, watching famous chefs cook, some doubts arise.
For example, when watching famous chefs cook spaghetti carbonara on YouTube, you notice that although they order not to work on the fire, at the same time they also ask to “work with everything hot”, including the dishes that are going to be taken to the kitchen. table. But above all, they scramble eggs and pasta over the water vapor that constantly boils in their kitchens.
Plus, most chefs still haven’t agreed on whether it’s best to use whole eggs, just the yolks, or half and half.
In conclusion, regarding theadding initial sautésIn our opinion it is better to leave it like this: no garlic or onion.
Instead We recommend beating for a few seconds. (10-12 seconds, not a minute) over low heat. Which is obviously different than sautéing pasta over high heat! And this is both because we don’t have restaurant equipment at home, and because we also use whole eggs, coagulating the whites and yolks at different temperatures. In this way, with very light cremation, we favor the balance of flavors. That is, we avoid perceiving on the palate the viscous flavor of raw egg white, or that of excessively raw egg yolk.
- 360 g spaghetti
- 120 g bacon (or bacon No smoked)
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 60 g grated pecorino Romano
- black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Cut the bacon into cubes and fry it for 5-6 minutes over very low heat in a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil. When the bacon has taken on the color of honey and begins to toast, remove the pan from the heat.
- In a bowl, mix the 2 eggs, the 2 yolks, half of the pecorino cheese, a pinch of salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper.
- Drain the pasta al dente and quickly (that is, without letting it dry out too much) pour it into the pan. Put it back on the heat (always very slow) and let the fat absorb, stirring for a few seconds.
- Pour the beaten eggs over the pasta, mix quickly for a few more seconds (10-12 maximum on low heat) and immediately remove from the heat. This way the eggs will feel the heat of the fire, thickening a little but remaining liquid: they should not coagulate at all.
- Off the heat, add the remaining cheese, add a tablespoon or two of the cooking water and stir one last time before serving. Spaghetti Carbonara they must serve very hot