Eggs, guanciale or cured pork jowl and freshly ground pepper give to this dish its intense taste.
Spaghetti alla carbonara is one of the most famous Italian recipes worldwide.
And as is often the case with famous recipes, there are many legends surrounding the origins of this dish.
Despite being a fairly recent creation, there are a lot of theories, often contradicting, about how this dish came into existence.
There are two main theories: the most famous suggests that pasta alla carbonara was invented during World War II someone tried to make a pasta dish using the ingredients rationed to the American soldiers – namely eggs and bacon – to toss with the pasta, adding pepper and cheese at the end for more taste.
The second theory, instead, suggests that carbonara is the evolution of a dish with ancient Roman origins called “cacio e ova” (or cheese and egg) that was served to the coal miners or carbonari.
Even it cheese and egg had been used with pasta for a long time, this recipe became the carbonara as we know it today during World War II when the American soldiers asked the tavern cooks to add guanciale (or cured pork jowl) which they mistook for bacon, something Americans commonly pair with eggs.
- 13 oz spaghetti
- 5 oz guanciale*** (or bacon)
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 ½ oz Pecorino cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted water.
Meanwhile, cut the bacon into strips and put it in a large pan.
Gently brown the bacon without adding oil.
In the meantime beat the egg yolks with the Pecorino cheese and two spoons of boiling water.
Add freshly ground black pepper.
When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and put it into the pan with the bacon: take the pan away from the heat and then add the beaten egg yolks, finally add a tablespoon of cooking water for a creamy result.
Stir for a minute and serve the spaghetti with carbonara sauce: sprinkle with the Pecorino cheese and black pepper.
* “Guanciale” – a special Italian meat from Lazio region prepared from pork cheek– you can also use Bacon.