Spaghetti Carbonara

Full disclosure. I did not grow up eating this – that said, once I went to Italy and had it, I understood why people love it so. This has become a favorite of our children. While using pancetta or other Italian meats is preferable, bacon is absolutely fine. Of course in Italy or NYC, you can get your hands on those ingredients and fresh pasta, but for most of us here we have to make do. One thing I think makes a big difference is the use of fresh grated, quality cheese.

I think another element that many American cooks miss is the importance of reserve pasta water. I’ve seen many non-Italians cook the sauce and pasta separate. The ideal is to add the noodles al dente to the pan, and finish cooking them off use a little reserve pasta water. This makes a big difference.

On a side note, I much prefer this with bucatini (my favorite long noodle); however, it is not always available at the grocery store – spaghetti, however, is universal:)

You will need:

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 packed cup grated pecorino Romano
  • 1/3 packed cup, grated Parmesan
  • 3 ½ ounces of pancetta or bacon, sliced into pieces about 1/4 inch thick by 1/3 inch square
  • 1 box bucatini, spaghetti or linguine
  • Salt & Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Place a large pot of lightly salted water over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, and pecorino and Parmesan. Season with a pinch of salt and generous black pepper.
  3. Add pasta to the water and boil until al dente.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the pancetta/bacon, and sauté until the meat just begins to crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Just before pasta is ready, reheat pancetta/bacon in skillet, if needed. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and add to the skillet over low heat. Stir for a minute or so, working the olive oil and meat through the pasta. Add in some reserved pasta water and work through the noodles until creamy.
  6. Stir in cheese mixture. Serve immediately, dressing it with a bit of additional grated cheese and pepper.

2 thoughts on “Spaghetti Carbonara

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