Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Carbonara

Pasta Alla Carbonara or simply Carbonara is a typical rustic dish from Roma. It’s one of the most famous Italian recipes, because it’s extremely easy to prepare and it’s full of taste. As it combines carbohydrates and proteins, it’s usually served as the main dish; a whole meal can easily consist only of Carbonara, as long as there is enough!

It’s time for some very needed tips and tricks to prepare the classic Carbonara you can eat in Rome:

  1. Please don’t add cream – not even a drop!
  2. Onion, garlic and EVOO are unnecessary.
  3. Pecorino or Parmesan cheese? The tradition calls for Pecorino.
  4. Do not substitute Guanciale ‘pork cheek’ with bacon or pancetta – unless you can’t get Guanciale.
  5. Short or long pasta? The dried one you prefer – but better to avoid fresh pasta.
  6. Whole eggs or only yolks? According to the tradition, one should use only yolks to achieve a thicker and more homogeneous sauce. You can substitute one of the yolks for a whole egg if you wish to obtain a less dense cream.
  7. Never combine the eggs whilst pasta it’s still on the stove! You will get scrambled eggs or an omelette – which are good of course, but not carbonara

Serves: 2 | Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 15 mins

  • Pasta: Maccheroni or Rigatoni or Spaghetti: 180 g
  • Pork cheek (Guanciale): 80 g
  • Pecorino cheese, grated: 50 g
  • Eggs, whole: 1
  • Egg yolks: 2
  • Black pepper: to taste

Method 

Cook the pasta in boiling unsalted water.

Beat up the egg and the egg yolk in a large bowl, which must be big enough to hold all of the pasta at a later stage. Add almost all the pecorino and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.

Cut the pork cheek in stripes and fry them up in a pan over low heat, until the fat melts and the stripes are crispy.

Drain pasta.

Tip: To enjoy a proper carbonara, it’s important to cook the pasta “al dente“: this means drain pasta 1 to 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time written on the package.

Stir-fry it pasta in the pan along with the pork cheek for about 1 minute to let it flavour. Transfer now the pasta to the bowl with the eggs and stir immediately.

Top with a some Pecorino and black pepper before serving.

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