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Thursday 19 January 2012

Sluttishly Savoury: Spaghetti Carbonara

According to our Facebook page, that you have some SERIOUS opinions when it comes to Carbonara.

Strangely enough, I've been planning a Sluttery take on a carbonara recipe for a while now. Then y'all went and scared me with your strong opinions.

Cream or no cream? That's the big issue here.

Apparently, the origin of spaghetti carbonara is quite the disputed little tale. Some folks say the sauce was developed by woodland-dwelling folk out to collect coal ("carbone" in Italina). Other swear blind the dish was developed by a chef in the Carbonari revolutionary group who did fighting stuff with Austrians in North Italy in the 18th century.

It has also been said that towards the end of WWII some homesick American soldiers, stationed in Italy, were on the lookout for some bacon, egg and Chinese noodles akin to what they were used to back home. Now the Italians being a notoriously friendly lot, did their very best to accommodate. And, thus, carbonara sauce was born.

However you think it began, carbonara is a gorgeous, easy and delicious little recipe that every Domestic Slut should have up her sleeve. Now, the controversy comes when you ask regular folk what carbonara sauce actually is. I did some asking:

"A cheese sauce. I think it's mostly cream."
My mother - excellent baker but of dubious pasta-related talents.

"A cream and cheese sauce."
My lovely friend, who knows her way around a kitchen ... if there's gin to be found in it.

"A make of Italian super car."
I feel that this last person - my brother - may have been pulling my leg...

Anyway, whilst there is cheese in the recipe (Parmesan, to be precise), everyone I asked was wrong. Actually, for a good while I was wrong too. But, luckily, a short-lived romance with a dashing Italian fellow called Antionio put paid to my rather British ignorance of the dish.

Right then. Conclusively, there's no cream. And no catalytic converter. So, what is in a carbonara, then?

You'll need:
  • 120g pancetta - diced (if you don't have pancetta to hand, which is a common problem I hear, then bacon isn't too déclassé a replacement).
  • a clove of garlic
  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 100g Parmesan (grated)
  • olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spaghetti
Make it!
  • Get your pasta into some salted boiling water that's had a decent glug of olive oil swirled in it. You can daydream of straddling mopeds behind Italian Stallions in very tight trousers whilst you do with, is you like.
  • Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the pancetta and garlic clove (peeled but not sliced).
  • Lightly beat the eggs in a metal bowl ( I strongly believe temperature is everything when it comes to eggs) with a pinch of salt and half a handful of the cheese.
  • Drain the pasta when it's al dente and add to the pancetta pan (discard the garlic).
  • Heat the pasta and pancetta over a medium heat, then add the beaten eggs and combine in a swift fashion (you don't want your eggs to scramble!).
  • Slam in the rest of the cheese, combine and serve immediately with a very large glass of wine.


  1. This is pretty much my recipe, except I only use the yolks of the eggs..

  2. How many people is this ideally for?


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