This recipe for spaghetti carbonara is basically breakfast for dinner and comes together in under 30 minutes. National Spaghetti Day on Jan. 4 is the perfect time to try it.
I have always preached about the importance of a well-stocked pantry. When you’ve been out all day (and not thinking about dinner), coming home and having 30 minutes to get food on the table can be stressful. But as long as you have a few items you can grab from the fridge, freezer, and shelf, getting something on the table that doesn’t require more than five ingredients and still tastes delicious is entirely possible.
For these quick meals, pasta is always a great option. It’s usually foolproof and a crowd-pleaser, so if you forgot to defrost some chicken and everyone is starving, there’s one reliable go-to recipe you can count on: spaghetti carbonara.
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Spaghetti carbonara is a fancy Italian way of saying bacon and egg pasta. The name of this dish is a bit of a mystery because carbonaro in Italian means charcoal burner. Some believe the pasta was prepared for coal miners after a long day at work. Whether or not this is true, my kids sure enjoy gobbling it up after a long day at school. Bacon and eggs and spaghetti: What’s not to love?
The Convenience of Spaghetti Carbonara
On any given night, you probably already have all the ingredients for this dish. I always make sure to keep pancetta in my freezer (yes, you can freeze it!) and a high-quality hunk of parmesan in the fridge alongside a carton of eggs, so I can easily whip this up at a moment’s notice.
To really elevate the dish, I poach some eggs and serve them on top of each plate. Everyone will delight in piercing the eggs and watching the yolk spill out over the hot pasta.
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Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe
While the pasta does become very creamy when the eggs are emulsified with the starchy pasta water, there is no cream in the dish (one less ingredient you need to worry about!). Plus (if I haven’t sold you yet), this dish comes together in the time it takes to boil and cook pasta.
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped Pancetta or high quality bacon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced fine
- 1 ½ cup grated high quality hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano (none of the pre-grated stuff please), divided
- 6 large eggs, divided
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook spaghetti based on package directions until al dente.
- In a medium pot, boil 6 cups of water. Poach four of the eggs and set on a paper towel lined plate.
- While the pasta is cooking, place a large skillet, with high sides, on medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until brown and crispy. Add garlic and sauté for another minute, just enough to soften the garlic. Turn off the heat.
- In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup of the parmigiano with 4 eggs and beat to fully combine.
- When the pasta is ready, first, remove ½ cup of the pasta water from the pot and set aside. Then, drain the pasta and pile it in the skillet with the pancetta and garlic. Pour the eggs into the skillet and quickly mix the eggs with the hot pasta to combine. As you mix, slowly add the hot pasta water, a bit at a time to create a creamy sauce that binds to the pasta.
- Add the freshly ground pepper and mix again.
- Place the pasta in four plates with a small nest in the middle of the pasta carved out with the ladle. Add a poached egg to the middle of the pasta.
- Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top.
Header image courtesy of Anna Gass.