Pasta alla Carbonara – Stop the Cream on Carbonara Crimes!

10 Nov

Pasta alla Carbonara Recipe; an Authentic from Rome
Recipe by

One of the signature dishes of Rome along with Bucatini all’Amatriciana, is Pasta alla Carbonara. You can’t visit the Italian capital without trying both of these Roman classics and I myself have been enjoying carbonara since I learned how to walk. Like many other recipes from Rome, guanciale and/or pancetta are vital to the dish and sadly the authentic recipe has been savagely abused here in the States in what I refer to as “cream on carbonara crime“, where traditional ingredients are substituted with heavy cream, butter, and bacon (Francesco Totti, captain of A.S. Roma is beside himself, believe you me!). I’m starting a campaign against these dastardly criminals who have butchered the good name of carbonara in restaurants across the great US-of-A and one day I hope to bring this to the attention of congress (my political platform is growing by the minute)! It might not have the same noteriety or collective support in finding a cure as voice immodulation but we can no longer ignore these terrible atrocities. In the meantime I’m sharing the true Roman recipe of Pasta alla Carbonara that my mother has prepared all my life and shared with me. The best part is that there are only a few ingredients required to create this easy and delicious dish. But cream my friends, is not allowed! Authentic Roman Pasta alla Carbonara recipe ingredients including pancetta, Pecorino Romano, eggs, spaghetti, black pepper and olive oil from Paggi Pazzo

To create the authentic Pasta alla Carbonara recipe all you need is 1/3 pound of guanciale and/or pancetta, a few eggs (eggs?!?!?!!?? stay with me here…), 1/2 pound of spaghetti, 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano, pasta water and two teaspoons of black pepper. The traditional carbonara includes spaghetti but it’s not uncommon to find short pasta in many of the restaurants in and around Rome. In fact, the restaurant that my mother and father dined at frequently when they were dating (but has since changed its name to) La Gattabuia in Trastevere had an excellent Pasta alla Carbonara using short pasta (and if you have the chance when in Rome, GO TO THIS RESTAURANT! Really great food, although it’s definitely off the beaten path and not a tourist spot but that’s usually where the best food is). Many chefs here in the States like to add vegetables or chicken (and in all honesty, I have added mushrooms before), but the true Roman way includes only these items…and maybe a glass of red to get you through the long arduous process….of all some 30 minutes!

To get started, grate the Pecorino Romano and chop the guanciale and/or pancetta into little chunks (use what you like – just not bacon, it’s sooooo not cool and we’re trying to keep it classy here at Paggi Pazzo). Cook the guanciale/pancetta in a pan (no olive oil as the fat renders and works the samel) and start your boiled water. In the meantime, crack two eggs into a bowl and add a pinch of pepper and 4 teaspoons of grated Pecorino Romano then beat them like you were making an omelet or angry at your fake rented mule (I can’t say a real mule because PETA would probably try to have my site banned and that’s not good for my yet to be started political career). The tricky part from here is when the guanciale/pancetta starts to brown and the pasta is boiled and drained, you have to quickly add the pork and remaining Pecorino Romano (grated) to the hot pasta and stir quickly. Then just as quickly, add the eggs to the pasta while stirring and continue to stir for several minutes. What this does is cook the eggs as a light sauce but it’s important not to hesitate when mixing to the pasta because if you do you’ll have spaghetti with breakfast or if you wait too long after the pasta has cooled, you get runny under-cooked eggs with spaghetti. The recipe is that simple and yet sooooooo good, seriously! If you’ve never had the true authentic way you’ll never want to go back to “cream on carbonara crime” and you’ll also probably join me in my fight against those torturing this Roman masterpiece!

Like the other Roman classic Bucatini all’Amatriciana, there is a heavy dose of guanciale and/or pancetta, Pecorino Romano, and no garlic (no garlic?!?!?! What you talkin’ about Willis?), but the eggs and combination of ingredients for the carbonara really bring the flavors to light. I also made some zucchini with onions in a red sauce to keep the Roman theme going, but feel free to make your own side dish or enjoy the carbonara on it’s own. As for wine, most experts suggest a white wine because of the white sauce but also because the “cream on carbonara crime” offers a different texture and heaviness than the authentic carbonara. My suggestion would be to select a red such as a French Cabernet or Chianti as it really accentuates the taste of the pancetta or do what the locals do and enjoy the delightful bottle of a red Cesanese. So there you have it, one of Paggi Pazzo’s all time favorites – Pasta alla Carbonara, “in bocca la lupo“!Classic Roman Pasta alla Carbonara recipe from Paggi Pazzo

Pasta alla Carbonara Recipe

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 15 min

Total time: 25 min

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1/2 pound spaghetti (Barilla)
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 pound guanciale and/or pancetta
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Cooking Directions

  1. Grate Pecorino Romano into bowl then cut guanciale and/or pancetta into small thin chunks and place in pan over medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until guanciale and/or pancetta is lightly browned
  2. While guanciale/pancetta cooks, boil pasta water and when ready, add spaghetti and cook for 11 minutes or until al dente
  3. Prior to the pasta being ready, crack eggs and place into a bowl with a pinch of pepper and teaspoon of Pecorino Romano then beat for several minutes
  4. Once pasta is ready, drain water and place back into pot then quickly add guanciale and/or pancetta from pan, remaining pepper, and remaining grated Pecorino Romano. Stir quickly then add eggs while stirring pasta. Continue to stir for several minutes while pasta is hot so egg cooks into a light sauce
  5. Add pasta to serving bowl and if desired, add a sprinkle of grated Pecorino Romano and get ready to be stunned with flavor!

Pasta alla Carbonara Recipe

4.5 out of 5
stars based on 20 ratings.

Click here for full Spaghetti alla Carbonara Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

8 Responses to “Pasta alla Carbonara – Stop the Cream on Carbonara Crimes!”

  1. KB April 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    The author’s mom used to make this for me when we were kids. Delicioso!

    • Paggi Pazzo September 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      Yes she did and man was it good! Thanks for stopping by KB!

  2. Linda December 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    I was craving this dish for 9 long months while I was pregnant (since we weren’t sure it was safe for me to consume “raw” eggs). It was definitely worth the wait! This is one of my all time favorite meals and with this recipe it was not only delicious but also didn’t feel especially fattening (like it can when prepared at restaurants). Sooooo good!

    • Paggi Pazzo December 18, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

      I don’t think I’ve gone that long without carbonara before, so I was extremely happy when our son was born – more specifically because he was born πŸ™‚
      But it was a nice bonus to enjoy the pasta alla carbonara again πŸ™‚

  3. Renata December 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    this is one of our favorite dishes, how many times have we made it…
    The secret is to move quickly once the past is cooked in order to amalgamate the eggs. Once again you brought the “classic” Italian recipe for this yummy dish. I can only say that you out did yourself

    • Paggi Pazzo December 13, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Well, thanks again (Mom!) πŸ™‚
      Your carbonara is still the best I’ve ever had, hands down – so as long as you keep making it, I’ll keep eating it while trying to create a carbonara that’s as good as yours for my family πŸ™‚

  4. Barbara November 16, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    I love carbonara.

    • Paggi Pazzo November 16, 2011 at 3:57 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and who doesn’t love carbonara? πŸ™‚ Nice blog you got going on over there as well, I look forward to seeing your future posts

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