How to make the perfect Spaghetti Carbonara
Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves four people
Spaghetti Carbonara is one of those great Italian dishes which everyone should have as part of their repertoire. It’s quick and easy, while being filling and comforting, and once you’ve mastered this simple but effective recipe, you’ll come back to it again and again.
The Carbonara sauces you get ready made in pots at your local supermarket are a million miles from the real thing, and the weirdly gloopy, cheesy versions you find there are a regular source of contention for Italian expats, being part of a nation who take their pasta sauces very seriously indeed!
What you'll need:
- One hundred grams of cubed pancetta or similar
- Fifty grams of grated Parmesan cheese
- Fifty grams of grated Pecorino cheese
- Three hundred and fifty grams of good quality spaghetti
- Three large eggs
- Two decent sized cloves of garlic, peeled and unchopped
- Fifty grams of unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
First of all, put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Chuck a little salt into the water, and turn your attention to the eggs. You’ll want to beat these in a bowl, and season them with a little salt and pepper.
Add the spaghetti to the water, and cook covered for about ten minutes, until al dente (just cooked).
Squash your garlic with the back of a heavy knife, just to give it a good bruising. While the spaghetti is boiling away, fry your pancetta in the butter, in a large frying pan with the garlic. You’ll want to keep this frying for about five minutes, until the pancetta is golden and starting to go crispy. After this time, take out the garlic and throw it away - it will have done its job of imparting its flavour into the meat.
Turn the heat on the frying pan down to a low setting. Using tongs or something similar, lift the al dente spaghetti from the saucepan, and mix with the pancetta in the frying pan. Don’t worry if you get a bit of water in there.
Mix the majority of your grated cheeses into your beaten eggs, leaving a bit aside for sprinkling over the top when you serve it. Take the frying pan off the heat, and quickly tip the eggy, cheesy mixture into the spaghetti, and mix and stir enthusiastically. It should thicken, but the eggs shouldn’t scramble. You can put in a couple of tablespoons of the spaghetti water, to create a bit more sauce, and season to taste.
Serve in a bowl by twisting the pasta onto a long-pronged fork, or just plonk it in with a big spoon. Sprinkle with a bit of the remaining grated cheese, and eat immediately. It doesn’t get much better than this!
Wine pairing for Spaghetti Carbonara
Italian pasta dishes are a joy to pair with good wine, because this type of food tends to have only three or so ingredients, and an easy, direct set of flavours to think about when you’re matching them with wine.
Spaghetti Carbonara is a great example of this - you have cheese, and egg, and a bit of bacon - so, essentially, a salty, savoury dish which needs a cutting, fresh and zingy wine to lift everything up and keep things exciting.
For me, the best wine pairing for this dish is the classic Italian white wine, Pinot Grigio. There are quite a few slightly ropey examples of this fine grape kicking around at the moment, so make sure you’re going for a good one.
The best bottles come out of the Alto Adige region in the Italian Alps, where they’re incredibly fresh and minerally, and will go beautifully with this pasta dish.
There you have it -- a must-try recipe of the classic Carbonara!
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