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  • Writer's pictureDavid

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

This is a faithful recipe of the much-altered Roman dish

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of those dishes you see in many pseudo Italian restaurants. It is rare to see it done properly outside Italy - outside Rome, even! There is virtually nothing to it - it is a simple, but really tasty pasta dish, that takes as long to prepare as it does to cook the pasta. Of course you can add whatever you like to these dishes, and use whichever pasta you prefer - or happen to have. But this is the original recipe (it's not: I'm using pancetta instead of guanciale - lockdown presents limitations)



guanciale or pancetta - bacon is a possibility, but the desired effect of the meat isn't just a salty ham: it's cut into cubes and fried so they go crisp. The 'pop' as you bite into them is one of the lovely contrasts in texture of this dish

2 eggs

about 100g grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino. Or a mix of the two




Watch the video


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add your pasta

  • Give it a good stir - it doesn't need oil in the water, just an initial stir

  • Dice your guanciale or pancetta into cubes and fry in some olive oil

  • Once you've stirred it through the oil to coat it, leave it alone: you want it to get crisp

  • In a jug, whisk the eggs and add the grated cheese & black pepper

  • Stir the cheese through the eggs to get a creamy consistency

  • When the pasta is done (about 9 minutes for spaghetti), don't drain it; lift it from the water with tongs and add it to the pan with the meat. This will take some pasta water in with it, and help with coating the pasta

  • Take the pan off the heat and stir the pasta through the meat

  • Add the egg mixture into the pan and stir through (I find using the tongs and lifting the pasta up and around does the trick nicely)

  • Make sure the pan is off the heat! If it is, you'll get a lovely, creamy texture coating your pasta. If it's not, you'll get cheesy scrambled eggs

  • No cream, no mushrooms. Not much at all, but it's a lovely, creamy, indulgent dish from Rome

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