I'm not sure if pasta carbonara falls just above or just below fettuccini alfredo on the "not great for you" scale, but I do know that it's delicious - and a little goes a long way, so you don't have to feel too guilty. This dish has the perfect combination of salty and sweet, creaminess from eggs, and good texture from the pasta and bacon. In this recipe video, I show you how to make a pasta carbonara, that will blow your socks off. In my video, I don’t use peas, but I have seen them in several other versions, and have absolutely no objection to them.
Recipe Overview and Keys to Success
For pasta carbonara there are only a few things you really need to worry about.
- Like all pasta dishes, you need to make sure you don’t overcook the pasta. To get the perfect al dente, I start checking the pasta a few minutes before the suggested cook time labeled on the box. And generally take the pasta out of the water about a minute before the suggested time.
- For the bacon pieces, or lardons, make sure you cook them separately from anything else, so that the fat renders out and they get nice and crispy
- Finally, when adding the eggs, you want to make sure you don’t end up scrambling them. You want to add them slowly, to the pasta sitting on top (rather than having them hit the hot pan directly) and stir quickly to combine with the rest liquid in the pan
- Long pasta (spaghetti, linguini, etc)
- Bacon – 2 slices
- Cream – 3 – 4 tablespoons
- 3 egg yolks or 2 eggs (can use just yolks or whole eggs if desired)
- Parmesan cheese
- Butter – 2 – 3 tablespoons
- Olive oil – 2 – 3 tablespoons
- Slice the strips of bacon into quarter inch pieces and cook until the fat is rendered out and the bacon is crispy (see bacon lardons video). You can do this ahead of time.
- If you want to use just egg yolks, separate three eggs, and put the three yolks in a bowl. Discard or freeze the white. If using whole eggs, beat two eggs until smooth (like you were making scrambled eggs)
- Grate 2 – 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
- Chop 2 tablespoons or parsley
- Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the pasta in salted water to an al dente texture
- Toss the cooked pasta into a frying pan with the olive oil and toss to coat
- Add the butter and allow it to melt into the pasta
- Turn the heat off, and add the bacon, parmesan cheese and eggs, toss the pasta to combine
- Add the cream (or you can use milk) and the parsley and again toss to combine
- If your pasta looks dry you can either add a more milk, or some of the pasta water. If runny, put back on low heat and it will thicken quickly. Note, if you use the pasta water, be careful with the salt, as the water already has salt in it, and you don’t want to overdo it
The pasta carbonara is now ready to serve, you can garnish with a bit more of the bacon, parsley or cheese if desired. Enjoy!!