How to Make a Roman Carbonara at Home

The ‘Carbonara’ is one dish we stranieri, or foreigners, tend to mess up alla grande when we try to replicate it at home. The most common mistake is adding cream and ending up with some gluggy, heavy concoction that has nothing to do with this beloved Roman classic.
This is the type of dish that will make your eyes water, your stomach groan in delight; your weirdo neighbor who always blames you for not differentiating your rubbish will suddenly turn sycophantic, drawn to your door by that rich salty aroma.
If you’re an expat living here in Rome, BUY GUANCIALE. It is worth it. If you’re a tourist just passing through… what can I say… at least find some pancetta in your home town and please attempt avoiding generic bacon.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 150g guanciale diced
  • 100g pecorino (you can make this half Pecorino and half Parmigiano)
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • 4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
  • 350g pasta

METHOD:

  1. Put some pasta on to boil. While I’d normally advise salting your water with gay Roman abandon, in this case we’ve got the deliciously salty guanciale, as well as the cheese so there’s no need to go crazy here.
  2. Put the chopped guanciale or pancetta in a hot pan without any oil. The fat on the meat should cook down and lubricate your pan and this way you will get nice crunchy guanciale without your dish ending up being too oily or deep fried! Cook until lightly golden and then take off the heat to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk your egg yolks and egg together in a big serving bowl and beat in the grated cheese and pepper to taste. Add your warm BUT NOT HOT guanciale. You don’t want to cook the eggs.
  4. When your pasta is al dente, drain it, add it quickly to your bowl of egg/cheese/guanciale mixture and serve immediately so that the heat of the pasta warms the sauce. You can save a spoonful of pasta water if you want to extend your sauce a bit, or some people even add a splash of white wine. Naturally, you can top every plate with more pecorino Romano but don’t be tempted to get all Anglo-saxon on your piatto and go adding other ingredients. It’s semplice, it’s buona – resist the temptation to tamper. Romans don’t respond kindly to ‘fusion’.
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4 Comments

  • ahem… well, that’s huge for the stomach and cholesterol. First, we (in rome) use less guanciale, about the half you mentioned for 4 people (or a slice 1/2 cm. thick each person). Second, it’s a strict rule to use whole eggs, one less the total of servings so for 4ppl you use 3 whole eggs, 3ppl/2eggs, 1-2ppl/1egg etc. It’s important to add some pasta cooking water to the sauce, as it contains amid it helps to make it smooth and avoid the scrambled eggs effect. The following footage showing a typical (funny) roman chef making the true carbonara is self explanatory: http://www.italianfoodnet.com/ita/video/spaghetti-alla-carbonara. enjoy ­čÖé

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