My favorite recipe for authentic Italian pasta carbonara that’s easy to make, full of the richest flavors, and made with four basic ingredients.
A few months ago while I was in Valencia doing a two-week Spanish language intensive, I became good buddies with my fellow classmate, Alessio, who proudly hailed from Rome. He and I instantly connected over a shared obsession with his hometown’s famous cuisine (he was so delighted that I was a fan!) and had a blast chatting each day about our favorite dishes, and tips for how to authentically make them, and where in Rome to find the best so-and-so. But the joke amongst our classmates was that not a single day could pass without one of us somehow bringing the group conversation back around to one Roman dish in particular…
…pasta alla carbonara. ♡
Now, lol, I may have gravely disappointed Alessio when he asked my opinion about pineapple on pizza. (“Have to admit — I love it.” / “Noooooo, Ali — no pineapple on pizza ever!”) But I did earn a bit of Roman cuisine street cred when he asked how I make my carbonara. (“Eggs, pasta, guanciale and Pecorino Romano — no cream.” / “Wow, that is correct!”)
According to Alessio, the greatest tragedy of this Roman dish being exported around the world has been the addition of cream. It’s often used as shortcut to make the sauce extra creamy, but it is actually completely unnecessary. When made properly, the eggs in carbonara should melt with the starchy water and cheese to create a creamy, silky, luxurious sauce all on their own. Then when combined with chewy al dente pasta, lots of guanciale (or bacon), and a generous crack of black pepper — I mean, does Italian comfort food get any better than this?!
I think not. We’d better make some.