The first time I ever had Spaghetti Carbonara was when my mother-in-law passed away in 2007. All of the extended family was in town for her memorial service, and her brother was cooking lunch for everyone one day. I didn’t know at the time what the meal was, but I knew as I was eating it that it one of the very best things I’d ever tasted.
I’m not sure how I came to learn what it was that he’d cooked that day, but sometime much later, I did. And I tried again and again to find recipes that rivaled his from back then. I never did, though several of them were “fine.” But then about three weeks ago, I was making the dish and I decided to find another recipe for it to try. In addition to finding a new recipe that was a smidge different from what I’d done in the past, I came up with some slightly different techniques for the preparation. The result was the absolute best Spaghetti Carbonara I’ve ever prepared. I’m pretty sure it even came pretty close to my uncle-in-law’s from way back then. Today, I want to share that recipe with you.
Spaghetti Carbonara (Bacon and Eggs Pasta)
1 pound spaghetti
1 package (12-16 ounces) bacon
1/4 cup (give or take) white wine
1 onion, chopped
1/2-1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (fresh or “canned”)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions to your desired doneness. Before you drain it, ladle out about 1-2 cups of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta in a colander and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, pan fry the bacon.
- Pour off most of the bacon grease, leaving just a couple of tablespoons in which to saute the onions. When the onions are translucent, add the wine to deglaze the pan.
- Crack eggs in a large bowl and beat them with an electric mixer until they’re lemon-yellow and frothy. The electric mixer part is important; I’ve tried several times with a wire whisk and the results were never as good as when I used the hand mixer.
- Add 1/2 cup (approximately) cheese and the onions to the eggs.
- Put the pasta in the egg mixture and mix thoroughly. Utilize the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to make a creamy sauce and help the eggs to cook (but not solidify).
- Chop the bacon and mix in with the pasta.
- Serve with additional Parmesan cheese and your favorite salad and bread.
That’s it. It’s a little labor intensive due to the pan frying of the bacon, but I tried it with baked bacon and it didn’t work all that well, so I highly recommend frying it. Other than that, the two most important steps are to use an electric mixer on the eggs and let the pasta cool ever so slightly before adding it to the eggs. The electric mixer ensures that you break up the egg whites, which can be really stringy and gummy otherwise. The cooling of the pasta allows you to add it to the egg mixture without scrambling the eggs. The goal is a smooth, creamy sauce, not pasta with bits of scrambled egg on it.
Have you ever made Spaghetti Carbonara? What are your best tips for getting a creamy sauce? Let me know in the comments!