Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blog Hopping: Spaghetti Carbonara

I actually made this recipe several nights ago and didn't get a chance to blog about it until tonight. I have actually made several versions of this classic Italian dish but many of them were overly complex and often too rich. I really was looking for a simpler version, something homey and not too laden with cheese. I was really quite pleased with how this version turned out and it may have taken over as my new go to Carbonara recipe. It was incredibly easy and tasted quite good. I followed the method in the recipe here, altering some of the ingredients, which I will detail below.

First of all, I used only half a package of spaghetti, so about 8 oz. I tend to eat smaller portions of pasta usually, so for me that worked out to 4 portions. I did not add oil to the cooking water, just a bit of sea salt. I also used lean back bacon medallions which are just wide meaty portions of bacon meat, instead of the skinny fattier rashers of streaky bacon. To compensate for the lack of fat, I did add a tiny bit of olive oil while cooking the onions and bacon, maybe 1-2 tsp. In previous attempts at making Carbonara, I have used lardons of bacon, chunks of pancetta, or prosciutto. I have to say it boils down to a matter of preference mainly, as each will provide a slightly different flavor to the finished product. I was very happy with the lean back bacon, and I would use it again without hesitation. This is how much I used, I think it was about 1 1/2 cups worth of meat once chopped:

The best tip in this particular recipe for me was the way the cheese is measured and mixed in. One thing I had been struggling with in previous recipes was the excessive richness from either added ingredients (like cream, which to me turned it into an Alfredo sauce taste) or far too much cheese. In this version, the eggs are beaten first into a small bowl, and then only enough cheese is added to the eggs to thicken them. (see the photo on the Podany's blog, which I linked above). I used freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and 2 medium free range eggs. For me, this worked out to about 1 cup of cheese, but I didn't measure. I also used fresh flat leaf parsley. I also reserved some of the cooking liquid from the pasta and added a splash to the pan after stirring in the egg & cheese mixture.

So roughly, my ingredients for Easy Spaghetti Carbonara were:
8 ounces or half a package spaghetti, cooked in salted water and drained, reserving some liquid
1 pkg lean back bacon medallions (a 200g package), diced
1 small/medium onion, diced
1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
~2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 small/medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
~1 cup Parmigiano-Regianno cheese, freshly grated, or more as needed, plus extra for garnishing
freshly grated black pepper, optional
(see link above for the instructions)


  1. That looks really good Heather. I only ever tried this dish once and was not overly fond of it, mostly for the reasons you outlined above. I found it excessively creamy and was looking for something a bit lighter. I may give your version a try soon. I'll have to wait for a night when I am on my own, or when I have something else to feed Todd the pasta hater!

  2. Hey Heather!

    I was pretty suprised to stumble upon your blog and to find our blog being mentioned here!! Thanks! :D

    I'm glad you liked this recipe. I learnt it from a few Italian friends way back when I was in college and it's been my fav Pasta Carbonara since.

    You have a really nice food blog going here...I love it! I've also linked you in my blog. Nice to know you :)