Spaghetti Carbonara is one of my favorite meals in the whole world. Which is convenient since its just about the easiest thing I have ever learned to make.
If it is on a menu I am probably going to order it. If I don’t feel like cooking, this is what I make. If I want to make something really good for company, this is always a hit. It seems counter intuitive that my all time favorite pasta is probably one of the easiest things to make, like ever. The time is based on how long it takes to boil water and cook the noodles and it only has 8 ingredients (including salt and pepper). Also all of the ingredients keep in your fridge, freezer, and pantry for a really long time, its just too easy.
Usually when I cook I am still that person that measures all of their ingredients because I love following instructions. This is the only recipe where I actually don’t feel the need to measure my ingredients which makes the recipe a lot easier as well.
The first step is to put you pasta water on to boil (add salt).
The second thing I do is to cook the bacon. I leave the bacon in the freezer so that it doesn’t go bad then I cut the frozen bacon perpendicular to the bacon strips so that I get easy little bacon pieces. I cook my bacon on medium heat so I can render as much fat out of it as possible. If you cook it quickly the bacon will get crispy and still be fatty.
While the bacon is cooking I start preparing the sauce in a large bowl. This is the bowl that the entire pasta dish is going to end up in so make sure its a big bowl! First add the egg yolks to the bowl.
Next thing to add to the bowl is Parmesan cheese. I usually add the same amount of cheese as there are egg yolks in the bowl (or a little more). I buy a wedge of cheese and then grate it using a rotary cheese grater. Like this one here. This little baby makes the process a lot faster for me.
Also usually by the time I am done grating the cheese my bacon is done and I take it off the burner. It has to cool a little bit before you add it to the egg mixture or it will cook the egg.
After that stir your yolks and cheese together. It will probably look about the consistency of cottage cheese. If you think it is too thick it will be fine. If you think it is too thin add more cheese.
Time for black pepper, which is a huge part of the classic Carbonara. I add a lot.
I don’t measure the black pepper either but I add enough so that my mixture is heavily flecked with it.
I also add a little salt at this point.
Once your bacon isn’t ridiculously hot you can add it to your egg mixture and stir it in. Add in grease and bacon bits, the grease becomes part of the sauce (this is not healthy, I know that). At this point I usually taste the egg mixture to make sure it has enough salt in it (if that disgusts you then you don’t have to do this).
Usually this is the point where my water has started boiling so I add my spaghetti to the water to start cooking.
When the bacon is all stirred in add a small amount of olive oil. Don’t add too much or your pasta will just taste like olive oil. Be reserved. A little goes a long way.
Once your pasta has reached al dente perfection (or it has completed its cooking time according to the package) pull out some of your pasta and put it right in the bowl and mix everything together really well to cook the sauce!
If you decide to strain your pasta then first reserve some of the pasta water. Also strain quickly so you pasta is still hot when it goes in your sauce bowl. The heat of the pasta cooks the egg. Or use this pasta thingy that I use.
Once you have stirred in a smaller amount of pasta (see above) you can add the rest. And stir again!
At this point I add a tablespoon or so of pasta water to get the sauce to a silky consistency. I like the sauce to drip of the pasta a little because as the pasta cools the sauce thickens back up.
And then I dig in, probably while standing in the kitchen because I’m not strong enough to wait until I get to the table. (Or couch)
At this point you can also top with extra parmesan if you are feeling fancy, but I am too impatient.
Taking the picture below and not eating the bite on my fork was the hardest thing I’ve done all week.
The pictures above are for when I made 3 servings of Carbonara. Below is a general recipe for just one serving and all the measurements are approximate.
Spaghetti Carbonara for One
2 tablespoons frozen pancetta or bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips (I use regular 4 oz bacon because it is cheaper and I can use it for other stuff)
Dry Spaghetti (1/4 of a box) (I like Barilla)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (plus more for serving if desired)
2 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Put water on to boil with salt.
Cook bacon pieces on medium heat until fat is rendered. Prepare egg mixture while bacon is cooking.
Put eggs, cheese, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix. (Make sure the bowl is large enough to fit in the cooked pasta).
Cook pasta according to package directions.
After the bacon cools add it (and the grease) to the egg mixture (if it is too hot it will scramble the eggs).
When pasta is done take it out with a pasta spoon and put it directly into the egg mixture (mix as you add). Add a little pasta water to thin out the sauce if desired.