Giulio's Pasta alla Carbonara

By • April 13, 2012 0 Comments

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Author Notes: Pasta alla Carbonara is a classic Italian dish, although it varies from region to region. Some recipes call for cream, some leave out the egg whites and use just the yolks, some folks can’t live without the onions.

I was taught the “right way” to make carbonara by my Venetian cousin, Giulio. But the truth is, carbonara is so dang easy to make -- almost as easy as Italians are fussy when it comes to the right way to do anything! The trick is not to "cook" (or scramble) the eggs when added to the hot pasta; the mark of a truly great carbonara is the silky sauce.

This version of carbonara has a bit of a zip! I added a hint of lemon zest and just a pinch of red pepper flakes -- why not bend the rules a bit? Of course, if you're a traditionalist (or a good Italian) you can stick with the basics: eggs, cheese, bacon or pancetta, and plenty of fresh black pepper -- basta.

Either way, this dish will fix your soul and have you coming back for more!


Serves 4

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup bacon or pancetta
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 handful chopped parsley
  • 1 pinch lemon zest
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  1. Fill a large pot with water. Set on stove covered on high.
  2. Chop onion and bacon. In a medium saute pan, cook bacon on high until some fat renders. Add onions, turn heat down to medium, and cook until translucent.
  3. In a bowl, crack 4 eggs. Add 1 cup of grated parmigiano-reggiano, salt to taste, and 1 tbsp of cracked black pepper. Add 1 tbsp of water and whisk the egg mixture together until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
  4. Remove bacon and onions from heat. Set aside.
  5. When water is boiling, add 1 tbsp of salt and put the spaghetti directly in. Cook until al dente — about 7 minutes.
  6. In a large bowl, add a ladle of pasta water. Drain the pasta and add to the bowl. Pour bacon and onions in as well.
  7. With a wooden spoon, pour the egg mixture on top of the hot pasta, stirring the whole time so as not to cook the eggs — rather than scrambled eggs, you will achieve a creamy sauce.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest, and just a pinch of crushed red pepper.

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