Here’s the real carbonara recipe, according to many old Italian men and nonnas. A few simple ingredients: fresh eggs, cured pork, cheese, and pasta, and 15 minutes is all you need to make rich, indulgent carbonara from scratch.
…without the cream. So y’all can stop calling me everything but a child a God. Y’all are real serious about pasta carbonara and cream, huh?
So years ago, when Sweet Tea and Thyme was just a baby, I brought you guys pasta carbonara that I love: it’s creamy, decadent, rich in all of it’s cheesy, creamy, bacony, garlicky goodness. It’s an easy weeknight recipe that’s great comfort food.
And a lot of y’all have enjoyed that recipe with me.
But then there were those who were so adamant that my recipe was wrong, wrong, wrong.
So I gave in to your needs, dear friends. Here y’all go: a much more authentic version of carbonara. No onions. No garlic. Whole eggs. Pecorino. The authentic stuff.
PIN THIS AUTHENTIC SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA RECIPE NOW IN YOUR ITALIAN, WEEKNIGHT, DINNER AND COMFORT FOOD BOARDS ON PINTEREST. AND FOLLOW SWEET TEA & THYME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE TIPS, HACKS, AND TASTY RECIPES!
How do I know it’s authentic? Because I watched some videos on Youtube with old Italian men and nonnas criticizing the most popular videos of Youtube cooks and chefs making carbonara. Not only did they explain how different regions of Italy have their own twists on spaghetti alla carbonara, including adding Parmigiano-Reggiano because Pecorino is regional, adding a splash of cream (see?! SEE?!), using garlic and shallots, but that the original recipe is just simply guanciale, or pork jowls, eggs, pasta with a little pasta water, and pecorino, which is a sheep’s milk cheese. And some freshly ground pepper. Just a bit.
Honestly, I like both versions equally. They’re fast, easy, delicious, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand.
Serve it up with garlic knots, or some yeast rolls (these are great to premake and keep in the freezer to heat up whenever they’re needed), and a nice little salad, and you have a great, quick and easy dinner on your hands. Perfect for when you have those ‘I just popped up to say hi’ guests.
So…garlic or no garlic?
Frankly, I’m a garlic person. I’ll admit that I add two cloves of smashed garlic in after frying the pork. Hey, we are total garlic people here.
The residual heat after turning the flame off makes sure that the garlic is cooked through, that the flavor permeates all the rendered fat, but the garlic never gets burned and ruins your dish. But, if you’re trying to be 100% authentic, authentic…don’t add it. *shrugs in ‘this is just a guideline’*
Well, what about bacon in my carbonara?
Guanciale, which is pork jowl, can be difficult to find. And you aren’t likely to find slab bacon or pancetta at your local Walmart or Target. A nice thick-cut bacon is perfectly fine to use, and you’ll most likely get a good 10 servings of carbonara out of one pound of it.
I like it. A couple places in Italy do use it. It’s not in this recipe. If you want cream, go to my last carbonara recipe and be as deliciously inauthentic as you want, y’all!
The creaminess in this recipe comes from using whole eggs, an extra yolk, the melting cheese, and the starchy pasta water. Quickly mixing it all together in the pan with the pasta creates an awesome sauce that doesn’t need cream.
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Here's the real carbonara recipe, according to many old Italian men and nonnas. A few simple ingredients: fresh eggs, cured pork, cheese, and pasta, and 15 minutes is all you need to make rich, indulgent carbonara from scratch.
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 4 large eggs fresh
- 1 egg yolk* READ NOTE
- 8 ounces guanciale pancetta or slab bacon, cubed into bite sized pieces
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Coarse sea salt
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, and pecorino cheese until well combined. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. (It should be salty 'like the ocean') Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions or for 8 to 10 minutes.
- While the spaghetti is boiling, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the guanciale and sauté for about 3-5 minutes, or until the meat has just turned crispy and the fat is rendered. Remove the pan from the heat.
- When the pasta is done, reserve 1/2 cup of the water, then drain.
- Toss the hot spaghetti and half of reserved pasta water into the pan with the guanciale, then add the egg mixture and stir quickly until the sauce begins to thicken. If the sauce seems too thick, add more of the reserved pasta water until the sauce is thickened to your liking.
- Season well with freshly cracked black pepper. Taste for salt, depending on what type of pork product was used, you may not need any.
- Divide the pasta into serving bowls and serve immediately.
NOTE: If you want to serve these with a raw egg yolk on top for presentation, make sure to serve IMMEDIATELY while the pasta is still very hot and that it's very, very fresh. Have guests break the yolk and stir it well into the hot pasta to integrate it into the sauce. You can omit the egg yolk in the original recipe if you do this, because egg yolks thicken the sauce more and too many can make it too rich.