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Chef John’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara


When I make carbonara, I always add about a cup of chopped yellow onion to the bacon as it fries. That combination is delicious. I also use chicken broth instead of pasta water, as it adds more flavor, and only add the cheese at the end, along with about 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley.

Surprisingly, I’ve never had spaghetti alla carbonara before. So, I don’t have anything to compare this to. I know where I can buy pancetta at but it was too far away and I was feeling lazy. So, I used thick bacon. I, like chef John in the video, used whole wheat spaghetti. I enjoyed this simple dish even though I messed up a little and my cream curdled a bit. I didn’t lower my heat as low as I should have and I didn’t constantly stir. So, do as Chef John said!!! :o)

Very easy, simple ingredients, great to see the video also. I added a little diced onion with the bacon and seared cubed chicken tenderloins with the pasta; it tasted just like a nearby restaurant’s carbonara. Wasn’t too sure about adding the pasta water, but it was a great tip; made the sauce just the right consistency! Perfect amount for two people. Thanks for the recipe!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is not difficult to make and requires just a few simple, but standard, required ingredients. It really does not vary much from one recipe to the next. This recipe is a fundamental, basic reference recipe. I find it a little easier to mix the (room temperature) egg and cheese in a bowl and then add the cooked pasta to that mixture (rather than the other way around). I stir in the cooked meat, be it guanciale, pancetta or bacon, at the end. Add a little of the pasta cooking water if the sauce seems a little dry – the dish should be creamy, but not swimming in sauce. I just returned from Italy, where I was lucky enough to enjoy this pasta dish with guanciale, which comes from the jowls of the pig. I admit it sounded unappealing when I first tried it years ago, but only because it was unfamiliar. It is the best and by comparison neither pancetta nor bacon measure up. Unfortunately, it is hard to find here in the states. In its absence I’ve used pancetta, as I did tonight, other times bacon, and I have to say that if I can’t have this with guanciale I prefer bacon over the pancetta. I found this recipe a little heavy on the cheese for my taste, so I backed off on it by about one-third. Nothing innovative about this recipe – but because this is a classic dish, it shouldn’t be.

I’m half Italian and have been living here for over 28 years. So I can fully guarantee that the above recipe is correct. Hence the 5 stars. However there is a small cooking trick that we do here in Italy to make sure that the sauce is creamy and that the eggs don’t curdle. First we only use the yellow of the eggs inorder to make the egg taste not so strong (you may use the whole egg if you want). Second you should beat the egg and mix a part of the grated cheese together and then add a couple of spoonfools of the pasta water while the pasta is boiling to this mixture. The pasta water will help make this mixture creamy. When you add the egg mixture it should be done on either a very low heat or even better off the stove. If necessary add extra pasta water. All the rest remains the same… ingredients ect… hope this helps it works for me now my pasta is never dry

I made some changes to it. added garlic to the bacon and a little bit of white wine. Little Cilantro on top. Came out great! Love this recipe!!!

I’m a cooking novice so I was intimidated at first. However, the video and instructions help more than you’ll know. I was nervous about the sauce and about the whole prep, but it was really easy to make and beautiful to look at. I served it with some steamed broccoli and it was a hit. The only thing I did different was that I used thick-cut bacon since I’m on a college budget, but I thought it turned out really well. Apparently so did my family.

I have never made this before and I think I made a big mistake by upping the servings to 8. There was waaay too much pasta to stir as instructed. Definately don’t try to up the servings so much as I did! The people I made it for enjoyed it but personally I wish I would have stuck with the actual recipe amt.

Whenever I see a recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara with cream added, I know immediately that the cook had never tasted the real thing, a Roman specialty. Thank you Chef John for this perfect, authentic recipe.



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