There are as many versions of this dish as there are tales of its origins. My variation contains mostly egg yolks, Parmesan, bacon, butter, green peas—and absolutely no cream! If I have guanciale or pancetta, I might use it on occasion, but I prefer the smoky taste of regular bacon. A version I enjoyed in Florence contained a hint of nutmeg, which I've incorporated into my recipe. This is the ultimate comfort food, and it's so easy to keep all the ingredients on hand.
Check out this interesting New York Times article from a few years ago: Pasta Carbonara, an Unlikely Stand-In.
Prep: 15 minutes
Makes: 8 servings
Cook: 7 minutes
5 egg yolks
1 whole egg
Dash ground nutmeg
Dash cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices thick-cut bacon or 8 slices regular bacon, cut into ½-inch strips
1 lb fettuccine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
½ stick unsalted butter
½ cup grated Parmesan, Asiago or Pecorino Romano
Additional salt, pepper, cheese and olive oil to taste
- In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, whole egg, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, cook bacon in olive oil over medium heat until somewhat crispy but not well-done, about 5 minutes. Set aside and cool slightly. (If too hot it could scramble the eggs.)
- Meanwhile, cook pasta following package directions; add peas during last minute of cooking time. Drain. Return pasta and peas to pot and stir in bacon and any pan drippings. Add butter in pieces and stir to melt. Stir in egg mixture and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
- Spoon into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
- Taste and add additional salt, freshly ground pepper and cheese to taste. Drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.