The secret to carbonara is timing and heat - the latter of which you need very little. To be successful, have all your ingredients ready at the same time that the pasta is ready. Once you drain it, toss everything together off the heat (emphasis on off the heat) and the hot pasta will provide just enough warmth to cook the eggs through and make a beautiful silky sauce. It's when you try to mix everything together over the heat that you end up with scrambled egg spaghetti.
Recipe courtesy of Patrick Decker
Spaghetti Carbonara
Total:
30 min
Active:
10 min
Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Easy
Total:
30 min
Active:
10 min
Yield:
4 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients

  • 6 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound thick spaghetti
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, more or less depending on your tastes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish (optional)

Directions

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring it to a boil. Place a medium skillet over medium heat with the bacon. Gently cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crispy, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the bacon from the skillet and drain it on a paper towel. Reserve the drippings in the pan. 

When the bacon is just about ready, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook to al dente according to package directions. When the pasta is ready, reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining it. 

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, cream and pepper. Reserve until the pasta is ready. 

Drain the cooked pasta well and add it to the reserved egg mixture along with about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and 1 tablespoon of drippings from the bacon. Immediately begin tossing the pasta to evenly coat it with the egg mixture. While continuing to toss the pasta constantly, add the cheese in two additions (along with some more of the reserved pasta water if the mixture looks dry). Add in the reserved bacon. After tossing the pasta for about 30 seconds total, the mixture will come together as a silky sauce. 

Serve the pasta immediately garnished with the parsley, if desired.

Cook's Note

If you want to gussy up things a bit, swap out the bacon for pancetta or guanciale. If you're not into eating meat, leave it out and just replace the fat that you add to the pasta with some extra-virgin olive oil. I realize that date night for two and a dish that makes four servings might be a little incongruous, but wait and see how you feel about it when you're dishing up your second helping.

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