Spaghetti Carbonara

I love food with a story behind it, and spaghetti carbonara has one of the best. Because the term ‘carbonara’ translates to ‘coal burner,’ it is thought that the name came from workers in the coal mines in Italy. When these workers would come home for a hearty dinner after a hard day’s work, it’s said that bits of coal would fall from their shirts and onto their plates, actually giving the dish its flavor. Going with this theory shows why the dish is often finished with so much black pepper (which is one of the things I love about it the most.)

While today, many people use bucatini, fettuccine, and even (gasp!) bow-tie pasta, spaghetti is most traditional. Conventionally, guanciale is the meat that is used, but it’s very hard to find in my part of the world. I use pancetta or bacon in its place and having small amounts of each when I made it, I used a combination this time. Whatever ingredients you use to make it yours, it’s sure to be one you keep coming back to.


1 and 1/2 cups of chopped pancetta and bacon

1/2 cup fresh pecorino cheese, grated

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated

3 large eggs

12 ounces of spaghetti

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Sea salt, to taste

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper


1.) Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Mix the pecorino and parmesan cheeses together.

2.) Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl until they are smooth. Season with a bit of freshly ground pepper and set aside.

3.) When water is boiling, salt lightly and add spaghetti. Do not add too much salt, as there is plenty in the meat and cheese. Cook for one minute less than the package instructions, stirring regularly.

4.) As the spaghetti cooks, place pancetta and bacon in a large pan until crips. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a plate lined with a paper towel.

5.) Lower the heat under the pan and add the butter. When butter has melted, add sliced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, or until the garlic just becomes tender.

6.) Using tongs, lift spaghetti from the boiling water and place directly in the pan. It’s okay if drops of water fall in. You will need even more later. Turns the spaghetti in the fat so it is fully coated.

7.) Whisk 3/4 of the cheese mixture into the beaten eggs. Turn the heat off under the pan and add the cheese and egg mixture. Turn spaghetti quickly in it so it becomes coated but does not turn into scrambled eggs. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pasta water to bring it to saucy and creamy texture.

8.) Add fresh parsley, more freshly ground black pepper, and salt if needed, and give it a final stir.

9.) Serve with remaining grated cheese, more freshly ground pepper if desired, and enjoy!