Like most recipes, the origins of the dish are obscure, and there are many legends about it. As the name is derived from the Italian word for charcoal, some believe that the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. I personally like also the story that wants the Sardinian shepherds responsible for the invention of such succulent recipe: it comes easier to poeticize about walking the sunny hills of Sardinia with your dog, your sheep and a bag full of food, than about the poor miner coughing his brains out , while stuck in a dark hole underground, no matter what he’s eating.This recipe, even if a bit tricky, is very easy and quick to prepare; the secret is the freshness of the ingredients.
The true and original Carbonara is prepared with guanciale (cured hog jowls), and has no cream: the secret to achieve a nice creamy consistency is the perfect balance between the eggs and the cheese…and the starch water you scoop out of the pot while you’re cooking the pasta. The same way we did when we made fresh pesto, some hot water will help you while tossing the spaghetti in the pan, for its last minute of cooking.
Serves: 4-6 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Cook time: 15 minutes
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,plus more for serving
- 1/4 lb guanciale, sliced (or diced pancetta or prosciutto)
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1 large egg
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Pepper
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
1In an 8-to-12-quart pot, bring 6 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil.
2Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the guanciale and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer with the rendered fat to a ceramic bowl to cool.
3Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and use a wooden fork to stir the pasta so it won’t stick together. Cook until al dente. Ladle out 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and put it in another large ceramic bowl.
4In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the whole egg, the grated Pecorino, and black pepper. Whisk in the cooled guanciale (with fat).
5Add to the bowl of hot spaghetti and toss until completely mixed, adding some of the reserved pasta water for desired creaminess.
6Serve immediately, sprinkled with Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.
Importante!: Use the best, freshest possible organic eggs, since there are raw eggs in this recipe. The best way to check for freshness is to fill a deep bowl with water, then put the eggs in one at a time. If an egg sinks right away, it’s fresh- it indicates a minimum amount of air inside. If it floats, don’t use it.