Authentic Italian Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe: Simple And Delicious

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Spaghetti Carbonara is a classic Italian dish that embodies the essence of Roman cuisine. Unlike its cream-laden Americanized cousin, the authentic version relies on simple yet high-quality ingredients to create a luxuriously rich and flavorful sauce. This recipe will guide you through the traditional steps, ensuring a delicious and impressive carbonara that stays true to its Italian roots.

Understanding the Ingredients

Gennaro’s classic spaghetti carbonara

Before we jump into cooking, let’s delve into the key ingredients that make this dish so special:

Spaghetti: Use high-quality dried spaghetti made from durum wheat semolina. Fresh pasta can be substituted, but dried offers a slightly better texture for this particular dish.

  • Pecorino Romano Cheese: This sharp and salty sheep’s milk cheese is essential for the authentic carbonara flavor. Grated Parmigiano Reggiano can be used in a pinch, but it offers a milder taste.
  • Eggs: Whole, fresh eggs are crucial for creating the creamy sauce. The yolks provide richness, while the whites add a silky texture.
  • Guanciale: Traditionally, carbonara uses guanciale, cured pork cheek. Its unique marbling delivers a deeper, more complex flavor compared to pancetta or bacon. However, pancetta can be a decent substitute if guanciale is unavailable.
  • Black Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper is vital for adding a touch of heat and depth to the sauce. Don’t skimp on the quality!
  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds a subtle fruitiness and helps emulsify the sauce.

  • The Art of Cooking Carbonara (Step-by-Step)

    Now that we understand the ingredients, let’s get cooking!

    1. Bring a Large Pot of Salted Water to a Boil: Fill a large pot with enough water to generously cover the spaghetti. Add a generous amount of salt (around 1 tablespoon for every 4 liters of water) and bring it to a rolling boil.

    2. Cook the Spaghetti: Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions, usually around 8-12 minutes, aiming for al dente (firm to the bite). Reserve about 1 cup (240ml) of the starchy pasta water before draining.

    3. While the Pasta Cooks, Prepare the Guanciale: Cut the guanciale (or pancetta) into thin strips, resembling matchsticks. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Render the guanciale until it becomes crispy and releases its flavorful fat, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the guanciale from the pan with a slotted spoon and set it aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess grease.

    4. Whisk the Eggs and Cheese: In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, grated cheese (Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano), and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.

    5. Emulsify the Sauce: Once the spaghetti is cooked and drained, immediately transfer it to the hot skillet containing the guanciale drippings. Toss the pasta for a minute to coat it in the flavorful oil. Now comes the most crucial step – creating the creamy sauce. Using tongs, transfer the hot pasta directly to the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture. Toss vigorously, allowing the hot pasta water clinging to the noodles to cook the eggs slightly and create a creamy sauce without scrambling them. Be patient and keep tossing until a thick and glossy sauce coats the pasta.

    Pro Tip: If the sauce seems too thick, gradually add reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.

    6. Serve Immediately: Plate the spaghetti carbonara and top it with the reserved crispy guanciale. Garnish with a final grind of black pepper and serve hot.

    Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

    This recipe typically yields 2-3 servings. Here’s an approximate breakdown of the nutritional value per serving:

    Calories: 700-800

  • Fat: 40-50g
  • Saturated Fat: 20-25g
  • Cholesterol: 300mg
  • Sodium: 800mg (depending on cheese saltiness)
  • Carbohydrates: 60-70g
  • Protein: 30-40g

  • Please note: This is just an estimate, and the actual nutritional content may vary depending on the specific ingredients and brands used.