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Experience Plus - Bicycle Tours since 1972

Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Carbonara Spaghetti)

by ExperiencePlus! - Tuesday, July 27, 2010 recipes

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti with Carbonara Sauce

For four people:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic

2 eggs
1 ½ cups of grated pecorino and/or parmesan cheese
1-2 cups of coarsely diced bacon or “pancetta/guanciale” (vegetarian option can skip this ingredient)
2 tablespoons of white wine (optional)

1 teaspoon or so of rosemary (optional)
1 pound of pasta (spaghetti or rigatoni)
Salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

In honor of the 100th Giro d’Italia route in May 2009 which will end in Rome instead of Milan, we’re providing a traditional Roman dish which has become famous internationally for its simple ingredients.

The origins of this recipe are unknown, although most tales agree that the recipe we use today became popular after World War II  when eggs and bacon were more easily accessible. They were accesible at that time since they were popular ingredients with the "foreigners" (i.e. the American and Canadian troops).  Other possible origins of the name "carbonara," which means "charcoaled," come from legends of coal-miners (“carbonari”) eating/creating a similar dish. Or, the name “alla carbonara” might refer to the black dusting of freshly ground pepper that should be generously sprinkled on top of the pasta, or to the appearance of the diced meat which is pan fried until very dark.

While spaghetti, or any of its thicker cousins, are used throughout most of Italy, the Romans tend to use “rigatoni”, a large type of macaroni.

The important things to keep in mind for an excellent carbonara sauce are:
1. Add enough of these spices to give it  flavor! (salt, cheese, pepper, meat)
2. To not cook the egg except for once it is added to the pasta immediately after it has been drained at the very end. This way the egg cooks quickly by being in contact with the pasta taken just out of its boiling cooking water.

Preparation

Place a pot of water on to boil for the pasta.

Sauté the entire clove of garlic in the olive oil and then add the diced meat. When the meat is cooked (crispy and brown), remove the meat from heat.

While the meat cooks, mix the eggs and the parmesan cheese in a bowl. You should have a creamy mixture that is not very liquid.

When the water boils, add about 2 tablespoons of salt and the pasta until the pasta is cooked. When it is ready, drain the pasta and quickly pour pasta (with a very little bit of its water) and the creamy egg mixture into a heated bowl and stir. The egg will cook upon contact with the pasta and should coat the spaghetti or rigatoni nicely.

Add the meat (without the garlic clove) and stir, grind some fresh pepper on the pasta and serve with extra parmesan or pecorino cheese to taste.

Tips:
-use “guanciale” (pork jowl), which is a leaner meat and what the original recipe actually calls for although few Italians use it anymore
-use a cured or smoked bacon/pancetta for more flavor
-to keep the meat tender, cover it while cooking
-for more flavor: add 2 tablespoons of white wine and/or a hint of rosemary to the meat as it cooks

-for more people, use the proportion of 1 egg to ¾ cups of cheese

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara - great carbo loading for your bicycle tour!