Spaghetti Carbonara

Congratulations to swimmer Ryan Lochte for winning Team USA’s first gold medal of the 2012 London Olympics.  If you missed it, Lochte won gold in last night’s 400m individual medley.  Michael Phelps finished in fourth place.  Also, if you’re wondering why you saw long pants or long sleeves on the beach volleyball players last night, they were playing at 11 p.m. London time, and the weather was too cold for bikinis.

Today’s installment of the Summer Olympics feature brings us to Rome. Rome hosted the Summer Games in 1960, after having to give them up fifty-four years earlier due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The 1960 Rome Games were the last ones South Africa would be allowed to participate in until 1992 because of apartheid. This was the first Summer Olympics to be broadcast to the United States, and the Games where Muhammad Ali won the light-heavyweight gold medal. Eighty-three nations competed at the 1960 Summer Olympics.

I made spaghetti carbonara, an urban Roman dish, for today’s installment.  Carbonara is a creamy dish, but traditional carbonara doesn’t call for cream, and is comprised of four things- pork (bacon, pancetta, or guanciale), eggs, cheese, and pepper.  That’s it.  Do not add cream, this isn’t fettucini alfredo.  Do not add peas.  Just don’t.  One thing to make note of when you make carbonara is that the eggs must be added to the pasta off of the heat source.  The residual heat from the pasta cooks the eggs without leaving scrambled eggs in your pasta.  If you’re at all concerned about undercooked eggs, it’s probably best to skip this one.  If your pan is too hot, you’re going to have spaghetti with scrambled eggs and bacon (which probably wouldn’t be awful, it just wouldn’t be carbonara).  I wouldn’t use any cheese other than cheese you freshly grate for this, as using cheese that’s pre-grated may result in a gritty sauce.  I used thick-cut bacon for this and it was fantastic.  Good carbonara should taste eggy and cheesy, and this one fit the bill.carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara


  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz. thick cut bacon (or pancetta or guanciale)
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 1 1/4 C. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 4 large eggs, beaten just enough to combine yolk and white
  • fresh ground black pepper


Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add 2 Tbsp. salt.

While waiting for the water to boil, combine the bacon and olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat.

Cook until the bacon is crispy and has rendered its fat.

Remove the pan from the heat, do not drain the fat.

Put the pasta in the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Reserve 1/4 C. of the pasta cooking water, and drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the skillet with the bacon and olive oil and add the reserved pasta water.

Cook, shaking the pan, over medium heat.

Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 C. of the cheese, the eggs, and pepper to taste.

Toss until thoroughly mixed.

Serve with the remaining 1/4 C. of cheese over the top.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: adapted from Mario Batali


3 thoughts on “Spaghetti Carbonara

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