Cooking · Eating

Carbonara – the Italian version?

Welcome back to my little corner of the internet!

Today’s topic is very dear to my heart and it makes my heart and stomach ache every time I see how this amazing recipe gets butchered. Yes, we’re going to talk about Carbonara.

As an Italian living abroad, I know it is not always easy to find the exact ingredients that are needed for the original and real carbonara, but that does not mean that you have to butcher it completely!

Let’s start with the basics: a real carbonara needs eggs, Pecorino Romano and Guanciale. Now, I know original Italian guanciale is not very easy to find. I have been living abroad for over 10 years and I know what I am talking about. If you are unable to find guanciale, you can opt for some Italian pancetta and should you be unable to find even that one, you can use bacon.

As for the pecorino romano, if you cannot get your hands on it, you can search for Parmigiano Reggiano. It is not as salty and does not taste the same, but better than using grated Emmenthaler. Also opt for the cheese that still has to be grated, as the already grated one often does not contain what you may expect or hope. And leave anything that says Parmesan.

That’s it. No cream, no butter, no onions, nothing. You can store those for some other time and get a nice meal out of those, but please leave them out of anything that you intend to call carbonara. It could be your own creation and that’s perfectly fine, but it’s not carbonara.

So, let’s get cooking. Like with most traditional recipes, every family says theirs is the original one. The quantities may vary, but the ingredients stay the same: eggs, pecorino romano, guanciale, pepper and some water from the pasta.


400 g Pasta like spaghetti or Tortiglioni

150 g Guanciale

6 Egg yolks

50 g Pecorino Romano, grated

Freshly ground black pepper

Salt (optional)

Start by bringing a pot with water to the boil. Add some coarse salt to the water once it’s boiling and boil the pasta in the water until al dente.

Drain the pasta and set aside. Keep some of the water you used for cooking your pasta.

While the pasta is boiling, dice your guanciale and fry it in a pan until crispy. Do not add any oil, as it will release plenty of grease.

In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and the pecorino romano. Season with black pepper. Add one or two ladles of cooking water and mix it well. Now, if the mixture turns out to be too liquid, just add more cheese until you reach a creamy consistency.

Once the guanciale is nice and crispy, check how much grease you have in the pan. If you think it is too much, you can remove some. Pour the pasta directly into the pan with the guanciale. Add the egg and cheese mixture and mix it well in the pan. Serve with some more pepper and grated pecorino romano.

It is not advisable to store the pasta or keep it for another day as the eggs could go bad.

How do you feel about carbonara? Is there a food from your country that others’ recreations make you cringe? Let me know in the comments below.




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