Don’t take this wrong, but for an Italian like me it’s really a pain to see how mistreated is the spaghetti Carbonara recipe all around the web.
I mean, spaghetti carbonara is a luscious, four ingredients recipe which is almost pornographic in its goodness.
Nevertheless, even some international superstar chefs everybody follows get it wrong! Yes, I know, I might be slightly melodramatic, but let me ask you a question. What if somebody took your grandma’s best recipe and started giving it all around, completely messed up, passing it off for her best recipe? I bet you won’t be happy.
This is because we emotionally link a recipe to a certain place or person, and it marks our identity, or the identity of our family, group or country.
When my Belgian friends claim you can easily make a Carbonara with cream or onion, they don’ t understand why I get mad. What they don’t get is that I don’t reject the idea of pasta with onions or cream. On the contrary, I looove cream in pasta, I have tons of recipes that include it (you’ll see!). What I can’t accept is the concept of calling it “carbonara“. I always ask them, If I put wine instead of beer in the carbonnade flamande, is it the same? Of course not, they all say, shaking their head in disapproval. Because food, exactly like language, is part of who we are.
Let’s save the real carbonara!
A big problem of carbonara is the spread of distorted recipes by well-known websites with a lot of following, which dramatically increases the possibility to make it wrong. Believe me, there are tons of recipes that you can change and modify to your personal taste, but some things are just perfect and need to be preserved. Would you help me doing that?
I also assure you that it will be a win-win, because you’ll learn how to make a perfect carbonara with fewer ingredients, less fat – no cream neither butter is required in the real carbonara recipe – and following some easy steps you’ll become an expert! Tell me, is there any better satisfaction than being aware YOUR carbonara recipe is better than Nigella‘s ? I am sure her recipe is awesome, but it’ s not exactly a carbonara.
Let’s do some brainstorming…
Ingredients NOT to be used in the authentic spaghetti carbonara recipe:
Garlic – a pretty strong flavour characterizes this recipe, due to the presence of guanciale (or pancetta, in alternative) and pecorino. You don’t need to exaggerate adding unnecessary garlic.
Onion – completely out of place because of its sweetness, the poor onion would not be very happy to be swallowed by the guanciale ‘s fat.
Butter – pancetta or guanciale are fat enough to make butter total unnecessary. Next!
Cream – no way, no no no. Never, ever add cream to spaghetti carbonara. We are such good chefs we can correctly prepare eggs to provide the perfect degree of creaminess to our pasta. You, I saw you…put that cream away!
Mushrooms – they just don‘t exist in this recipe, poor mushrooms, people just don’t understand when they want to be left alone.
Parsley, chives, peas, ham – simply do not add any of these to the recipe and we’d better save them for an occasion in which they’ll give their best.
Guanciale and pecorino, two real gems
Contrarily to the main belief, the authentic spaghetti carbonara requires the use of guanciale – the pork cheek – and not of pancetta, the pork belly. Now, I am well aware guanciale is very difficult to find and the same goes for pecorino romano; it would not be fair to give up to the pleasure of a good carbonara just for this. Go ahead with pancetta or bacon and parmesan in that case. The outcome is not the same but you’ll be able to taste the most similar version! My advice is to do as the romans do of course – even if you’re not in Rome – and use the original ingredients if you can. It is really worth it! You’ll never forget you first real carbonara, it will seriously make you moan in pleasure.
If you are curious about the origins of this dish, you can find a short story here.
For more spaghetti, click here.
RECIPE FOR AUTHENTIC SPAGHETTI CARBONARA
Ingredients (2 servings)
Authentic spaghetti carbonara recipe
The authentic spaghetti carbonara recipe, a simple Italian wonder.
- 200 gr (a little less than 1/2 pound) dried spaghetti
- 50 gr (2 oz) guanciale, diced or sliced in small strips - pancetta in alternative
- 1 egg + 2 yolks
- 50 gr (1/2 cup) pecorino romano, grated
- 1 tsbp coarse salt (for the cooking water)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Step 1 In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil.
- Step 2 Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.
- Step 3 Reserve some cooking water and then drain it.
- Step 4 While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat.
- Step 5 Add guanciale and sauté for around 3 minutes.Turn off the heat.
- Step 6 In a bowl, beat the egg and the yolks with pecorino and a drizzle of pepper and stir.
- Step 7 Add the drained spaghetti to the skillet with guanciale and toss for a minute or so over medium heat.
- Step 8 Transfer into the bowl with the eggs/pecorino mixture, stirring until the egg sauce thickens.
- Step 9 Add some cooking water if the sauce is too thick or pecorino if it’s too liquid.
- Step 10 Season with some fresh ground black pepper and immediately serve in warm plates/bowls.