Authentic spaghetti alla carbonara uses eggs to make the sauce (not cream), the heat from the pasta cooking them. The name may come from the Italian word carbone meaning “coal”, alluding to the freshly ground black pepper which is an essential finishing touch to this dish.
4 as a main or 8 as an entrée
- Cook pasta in at least 4 litres of salted boiling water, following the packet directions or until the pasta is al dente.
- Meanwhile warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan and add prosciutto or bacon. Cook until crisp. Drain. Add remaining oil, garlic and chillies (if using) to the pan and cook gently so that the garlic doesn’t burn but releases its aroma.
- Combine the eggs and parmesan in a small bowl and whisk together.
- All the action happens at the end of this dish so have a large serving bowl heated and ready. As soon as the pasta is cooked, drain it and pour into this bowl. Remove the chillies (a gentle flavouring ingredient only) from the oil and pour the contents straight from the heat over the pasta with the bacon and then immediately follow with the egg and cheese mixture. Toss well and serve immediately topped with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and extra parmesan.
Lyndey's Note: Once you understand this technique, you can make many different sauces for pasta.