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Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara literally means “Spaghetti in the Manner of the Charcoal Maker.

The dish uses pancetta or guanciale (which are similar to bacon) and grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but it can be substituted by Parmesan.

Most Anglo-American recipes add cream to the dish, but this is not the original Roman recipe.


  • Spaghetti: 1 lb (450g)
  • Pancetta or streaky bacon: ½ lb (225g)
  • Egg: 5
  • Pecorino (or Parmigiano-Reggiano) cheese, grated: 1½ cups (360ml)
  • olive oil, extra-virgin: 3 tablespoons
  • pepper, freshly ground: ½ tablespoon
  • salt



  1. Dice the pancetta into small pieces (1 inch [2.5cm] will do).
  2. Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add salt when it begins to simmer.
  3. Cook the spaghetti (until it is al dente) and drain it, reserving ½ cup of water.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large wide pan over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and cook for about 5/6 minutes over a low flame until the pancetta has rendered most of its fat but is still chewy and barely browned.
  5. In a dish, slowly the eggs, using a fork. Add the Parmesan cheese and pepper. Mix again.
  6. Transfer the spaghetti immediately to the skillet with the pancetta. Toss it and turn off the heat.
  7. Add the egg mixture to the skillet with the pasta and toss all the ingredients to coat the pasta and stir to mix well adding about 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water into, if necessary .
  8. Taste the pasta and add salt and black pepper, if necessary and serve immediately

Ideally this dish is served with a red wine (Merlot, Chianti, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo)

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