Carbonara Recipe

Nemesis mentioned carbonara on her blog and I felt obligated to share this story and recipe.

I had a favorite family on my mission. We still keep in touch---they even called me when the New Year came to Italy, which I think is special. We'd go to their home every Friday for a discussion and then for supper. The mother (who we'll call Neve) was the greatest cook ever and she'd prepare all day for our Friday meal.

After one discussion, as the mother was making the final touches on dinner and we were seated at the dinner table with the father, my naive companion mentioned that I was a great cook and that I had made carbonara earlier in the day. The father, who loved to try and prove me wrong whenever he could (we'll call him Nanni), turned to me.

Nanni: Oh really Sorella Cicada. And how exactly do you make carbonara?

Cicada: Well... I fry pancetta (like bacon). With onions.

Nanni: Onions? No. There are no onions in carbonara. Go on.

Cicada: Then, I mix a couple eggs--

Nanni: The whole eggs?

Cicada: Yes.

Nanni: Wrong. You don't make it with whole eggs. Go on.

Cicada: I mix the eggs with parmasean--

Nanni: Parmasean!? No! You don't make carbonara with parmasean! You have to use pecorino Romano! Go on.

Cicada: And I mix in lots of pepper and cream.

Nanni: Cream!? CREAM?! Neve! [Neve is still in the kitchen.] Cicada puts cream in her carbonara!

Neve comes running from the kitchen with a look of horror on her face.

Neve: Cream!? In the carbonara??

Nanni: You don't put cream in the carbonara, Cicada. You're doing it all wrong. You missionaries learned wrong.

Cicada: Rumor has it that the recipe comes from an older Italian woman...

Nanni: No it doesn't. It's wrong. Neve will show you how to make carbonara the next time you come.

The next time I went, I learned how to really make carbonara. For your enjoyment, here's the recipe. Of course, measurements are general.


  • Start boiling a pot of spaghetti. The rest of the recipe won't take you any longer than the spaghetti has to cook.
  • Fry a bunch of pancetta (or bacon) in a lot of olive oil. If you're serving four people, I may even do up a whole package of bacon. Fry it in a deeper frying pan so that it can hold the unbelievable amount of olive oil you've added.
  • Dump in a bunch of red pepper flakes, depending on how spicey you want it. You'll want the carbonara to be pleasantly spicey.
  • In a bowl, put in one egg yolk per person eating. If there are several people eating, add an extra couple yolks for good measure.
  • Dump in a bunch of pecorino Romano (also known as Romano) and mix with the egg yolks. You'll want to create a fairly dense paste.
  • Drain water from spaghetti, return spaghetti to pot. Dump oil/pancetta/red pepper into the pot with the spaghetti. Dump the egg/cheese paste into the pot with the spaghetti. Stir. Ideally, the heat of the noodles cooks the eggs. If you're still nervous or cowardly, heat up the pot a little while stirring the mixture.
  • Throw in a bunch of chopped, fresh parsley and stir.
  • Serve hot!

13 comments:

Master Fob said...

Dear Cicada's Blog,

Please tell Cicada that I would like her to make me some yummy carbonara, even though I am not talking to her. Tell her that if she does I might forgive her for her horrible sin against taste and decency.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Master Fob

Nemesis said...

Wow. Okay, that looks really good. Only what if you want some cream in it? What then? Could we get the cream recipe too?

Cicada said...

Okay, Nem, but the cream recipe is not as good. However, I maintain that it is still authentically Italian---it just wasn't Roman, which I think was Nanni's problem with it. This is a different variation on carbonara:

*Cook bacon with onion. No excess olive oil needed.
*In a separate bowl, mix a whole egg per person eating with a bunch of parmasean cheese and a LOT of black pepper (from those who claim that carbonara get's it's name from CARBON---like... black flecks of pepper or something).
*Mix in a box of cream with the cheese and egg. Now, I never make this recipe in the States because I can't find cream of the right consistency. The Italians call it "cream." The French call it "creme fraiche." I'm sure you could find some in England. It's cream, but it has the consistency of sour cream (lots thicker than our cream). Ask your boyfriend, because I hear that French missionaries go CRAZY over creme fraiche, so he probably knows where to get it in England.
*Throw egg mixture and bacon mixture in the same pot as the spaghetti and stir till it's all cooked.

Enjoy!

redlaw said...

I am soooo hungry now.....

And I REALLY miss creme fraiche, like all the other returned french missionaries...

Desmama said...

I think I've made this recipe before. I'm sure I would blush with embarrassment if you were to see how I make it, but I think it's pretty good. I got it from a friend who served in Italy. It uses the cream. Everything tastes better with cream on it, right?

Cicada said...

Well... since my preferred recipe for carbonara is an oil-based recipe, I guess that goes to show that I don't think cream makes everything better. But it does improve most things.

FoxyJ: Please tell Master FoB that I have little time these days so there's no dinner party in my forseeable future...

Squirrel Boy said...

Cicada, you are probably one of the best cooks whose food I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

Also, on the radio a few minutes ago I heard a commercial for Buca di Beppo, and the guy on the commercial pronounced "penne" like "pene." I thought of you.

Coop said...

Carbonaraists. I'm indescriminate when it comes to Carbonara. I love it all, cream or no cream. As long as it's oily and full of bacon, all is well.

By the way, miss you all. Thanks for the wakeup call, Cicada. Hope all is well.

daltongirl said...

Excellent. I've been wanting a Roman recipe, since Lola is studying Rome right now. (I try to cook stuff that complements what they're studying in school.) I was thinking of asking you, and lo, you were inspired before I had to call you and have you not answer!

And Coop! So good to hear from you. We've missed you so.

I think we should have a blog chain. See my upcoming post for a pasta fagioli story.

AzĂșcar said...

Hi, de-lurking for a moment re:carbonara. The recipe Cicada mentions is divine (as it is basically my recipe, too.)

Interestingly enough, the eggs and cheese melt together and make the carbonara practically creamy. The parsley is essential and delicious.

Mmmmm...good hot olive oil over pasta.

Hope I didn't spoil your party, back to lurking for me.

FoxyJ said...

Yummy, yummy. I've only ever had and made carbonara with cream, so maybe I will have to get daring and try this recipe. Especially since I still am supposed to be gaining weight. Yum... bacon...

Cicada said...

Carina---your comments are most welcome! Good point about the cheese and eggs becoming the cream.

The Holyoaks said...

I never knew...