Carbonara is one of those dishes that’s comforting and creamy without being super heavy. It’s super quick to whip up, requires minimal prep and can feed a crowd. The hardest part is not curdling the eggs, but I have a little trick that guarantees perfectly smooth sauce every time.
I can clearly remember the first time making this for my husband. We were living in Seattle in a tiny one bedroom apartment and I think we were having friends over for a crab boil. My husband lived in Positano, Italy briefly before we met and mentioned how easy carbonara was. I’m pretty good at throwing stuff together without a recipe, but I curdled the eggs so badly that night. Nightmare.
Thankfully, I’ve gotten much better at making it and figured out how to temper the eggs shortly after the first mishap. Enough said, let’s eat!
Just a note before we start. FRESH parmesan cheese is a must. The prepackaged stuff usually has anti caking agents in it and that will turn the sauce into a curdled mess. If you have to buy pre-grated cheese, make sure to get it from the deli section and double check the ingredients.
- 1lb Spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons Sea Salt (for pasta water)
- 6 pieces Bacon (sliced into ½" strips)
- 4 cloves Garlic (minced)
- 3 Eggs
- 1.5 cups Fresh Grated Parmesan (plus extra for garnish)
- 1 cup Peas (optional)
- Black Pepper
- Get a large pot of sea salted water boiling and start cooking the spaghetti.
- While your pasta is cooking, start cooking the bacon over medium heat in a large skillet. Cook until fat is rendered (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat.
- Toss the garlic into the skillet with the bacon pieces. Stir so the garlic doesn't burn.
- Whisk the eggs and parmesan together in a mixing bowl until the mixture is fairly lump free.
- Take about a ½ cup of the boiling pasta water and slowly add it to the egg mixture while whisking quickly. You have to whisk quickly to temper the eggs. You should be left with a runny and smooth sauce.
- If you want to add blanched peas to the skillet with the bacon, go ahead and do that now.
- As soon as the pasta is done cooking, toss it directly into the skillet with the bacon fat, bacon, peas and garlic. Reserve at least a cup of the pasta water.
- Toss the spaghetti into the bacon fat and then quickly add the egg and parmesan sauce to the noodles while mixing quickly.
- Slowly add enough pasta water until the sauce is the desired consistency. (I usually use about a half cup)
- Garnish with some fresh ground black pepper and top with extra parmesan (optional).
Although traditional carbonara recipes call for pancetta and no peas, this is the way my family loves to eat it. Plus, I will do almost anything to get my kids to eat more veggies and they happily eat all the peas while quietly finishing their plates. Plus, who doesn’t love bacon?
Need more bacon? Bacon Leek Pockets.