Five-Ingredient Pasta Carbonara Recipe

Photo by Sarah Anne Ward

Pasta carbonara is a traditional Roman dish known for its rich and velvety, but cream-free, sauce made from eggs, hard cheese, pepper and cured pork. Though Pecorino Romano is the traditional cheese used, much of what’s available in the U.S. is long-aged and can be too salty. Somewhat fruity and nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a combination of the two cheeses, is better suited to this recipe that includes salty pancetta. Because there are so few ingredients, be sure to use the best quality you can find.

How to Make a Simple, Easy Pasta Dough
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano (or half Parmigiano, half Pecorino Romano), fine grated
  • 12 ounces dry spaghetti
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • Salt, to taste

In large bowl, whisk eggs, yolk, pepper and 2 ¼ ounces of cheese. Set aside.

Bring lightly salted pot of water to boil over high heat. Add spaghetti, and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, warm large, heavy-bottomed skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat. Add pancetta, and cook until golden-brown and almost crispy, 6–8 minutes. Lower heat, and keep warm.

Reserve ½ cup pasta water, and drain pasta. Add spaghetti to skillet with pancetta. Using tongs or wooden spoons, toss pasta with pancetta. Turn off heat.

Whisk together reserved pasta water and egg mixture, then pour into pan. Working quickly, toss pasta to coat, until sauce is thick and glossy. Add salt, to taste.

Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Wine Pairing

Corte dei Papi 2018 Colle Ticchio (Cesanese del Piglio). The only Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) for red wine in Italy’s Lazio region, the Cesanese del Piglio DOCG is known for ripe, spicy wines with sturdy tannins that can cut through rich pasta dishes. Aged in stainless steel, this wine is an especially refreshing complement.

Published on September 12, 2020