Food: This pasta carbonara recipe is surprisingly simple

Food: This pasta carbonara recipe is surprisingly simple

Carbonara finished by the author.
Courtesy Katherine Roberts

I was staying at my mother’s house recently, and she offered to cook dinner for us one evening. I mentioned that I was going to make carbonara, and my mom got excited and declared that she loved carbonara. The rest of the exchange went something like this:

“I haven’t made it myself in a long time, but I love it with all the butter,” she said.

What about me?”

Rose Roberts: “Carbonara. Did you know about flour and butter?”

Me: “Are you crazy?”

Start a shouting match over pasta.

You see, my mother seems to think that carbonara starts with a kind of roux, which is a mixture of flour and butter, fried in a pan, and includes pasta topped with bacon and béchamel sauce (a roux with added milk), and also with peas. The pea part I remember from childhood, because I hate peas, was sneaking them into my rigatoni “carbonara,” which meant me delicately pressing each individual pasta tube to extract the hidden vegetable and setting it to the side.

In the years since, after watching nearly 11 billion hours of cooking shows, I can tell you categorically that carbonara unequivocally does not include béchamel sauce, and only occasionally includes peas (driven by parents who apparently love to torture their children). . However, I don’t technically follow the traditional recipe myself. But I think I’ve mastered a version that’s always a hit and surprisingly easy to make.

Eggs are an important ingredient to any true carbonara.
Courtesy Katherine Roberts

Carbonara paste

1 lb. Dry pasta*

8 oz. Pancetta cubes**

4 large eggs

1/2 C heavy cream***

3/4C-1C freshly grated Parmigianino Reggiano

1/2 T freshly ground black pepper****
A pinch of salt

Cook 1 lb. of pasta according to package directions.

Cook the pancetta over medium heat until crisp and some of the fat has been rendered.

While the pasta and pancetta are cooking, beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream, cheese, salt and pepper.

Drain the cooked pasta and mix with the pancetta and 1 tablespoon of the reserved broth. Quickly add the egg mixture over the pasta, stirring quickly so the eggs don’t mix, and you’re left with a silky sauce.

Serve hot, adding more cheese as desired.

Cook notes

*I like spaghetti or linguine in this recipe, but my mom loves rigatoni, which is delicious, too. Just do what you enjoy.

**This recipe traditionally uses guanciale, which is pork cheek, but this ingredient is not particularly easy to find in our neck of the woods. Cubed (pre-cubed!) pancetta can be found in the cured meat section of the grocery store. It’s not traditional, but I prefer it over bacon, which I think is too smoky for this recipe.

***Purists will criticize me for adding cream, as you usually add pasta water or nothing at all, but I think the cream is a nice insurance policy, keeping the eggs from scrambling over the hot pasta.

****Use more black pepper than your instincts might tell you here. I have a grinder and I do about 30 turns in the bowl. Not traditional either, but I think you need the peppery bite to offset the cheese and salty meats.

Although my mom and I may not agree on what’s in it, we do agree that the batch of carbonara I made for her recently was one of the best dinners we’ve had in a while. So, be kind to your mom, even when you think she’s acting crazy.

Katherine Roberts is a writer and marketing professional based in the Central Valley who will definitely get into another food fight with her mom. she She can be reached through her marketing and communications company, Carington Creative, at

(tags for translation) Pasta Carbonara Recipe

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