Carbonara is one of my favorite Italian dishes. I have seen a lot of different ways people make carbonara. They use garlic, parsley, mushrooms, or even peas. All of these extra items are not necessary, especially with garlic because it covers the flavor of carbonara. All of these extra items do not enhance the flavor, it masks the flavor of the guanciale, cheese, and pasta. What people do not realize is that carbonara has very few ingredients. All you need is wheat pasta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, eggs, black pepper, and guanciale. If you do not have guanciale, you can use pancetta or a thick cut of smoked bacon. I did not find guanciale or pancetta, so I used a dry aged smoked bacon. This meal serves four people. However many eggs you use, it will serve that amount of people. Using two eggs will serve two people. In light of Carbonara Day (April 6th), here is my interpretation to pasta alla carbonara. I made this recipe from being inspired from Luciano Monosilio's recipe for carbonara. Note: Do not add salt in anything other than the pasta water. The dish is already salty enough with the meat and cheese. If anything, add extra cheese if you want extra saltiness.


NOTE: These are just guidelines. Adjust to your liking. Be careful with Pecorino Romano as it is salty.

• Half a pound of wheat linguine (spaghetti, fettuccine, rigatoni, or bucatini are also acceptable)

• 1/2 oz. of Pecorino Romano

• 3 1/2 oz. of Parmigiano-Reggiano

• Four egg yolks

• Freshly ground black pepper

• Guanciale (cubed) (if you cannot find guanciale, use pancetta or a thick cut of smoked bacon)

• Salt (for pasta water)


• Cast iron skillet (or a regular skillet)

• Stainless steel mixing bowl

• Cooking pot

• Whisk

• Tongs

• Grater

• Knives for cutting

• Measuring cups

• Optional: Two-tine fork and ladle

Step One A: Boil and Then Simmer

Take a pot and put water in it. Turn it up to high heat and let it boil. Once it reaches to a boil, let it simmer in order to create the sauce. This step is crucial in making the cheesy zabaglione. It is optional to make carbonara this way, but if you do not want to create a cheesy zabaglione, that is fine. I create a zabaglione because it has a creamier consistency than not creating a zabaglione.

Step One B: Boil

Take a pot and put water in it. Turn it up to high heat and let it boil. Add salt into the water. Adding salt into the water not only adds some flavor into the pasta, but it also increases the temperature so it will cook the pasta more efficiently. You do not put the pasta in right away, you need to let it boil first.

Step Two A: Create a "Sauce"

Make sure the eggs are room temperature. The reason why you would have it in room temperature is not only will it mix well, but it would also "cook" more efficiently when you mix your cream mixture with the pasta. Next, grate your cheese. You never want to use pre-shredded cheese because there is a chemical called natamycin and it preserves the cheese from sticking together. Using pre-shredded cheese makes it clunky and not mix well. Do not use whole eggs because the first thing that will cook is the egg white and the yolk cooks longer. To elaborate, using a whole egg could possibly ruin the carbonara and then you have yourself pasta with scrambled eggs. I would not use any sort of cream like heavy cream by any means. Usually people use it when they are not confident in the kitchen because they think it will not be a creamy consistency, but also it just makes the dish heavy. Do not use it, trust the process because it will be creamy without heavy cream or whatever cream you can think of. Take a mixing bowl, put all your ingredients with some black pepper into the bowl and whisk vigorously until it looks like a sauce.

Step Two B: Create a "Sauce" (cheesy zabaglione)

Follow the same exact steps from 'Step Two A,' but add the stainless steel mixing bowl on top of the simmering water. Whisk vigorously around four to eight minute range or until the consistency of the sauce is creamy and slightly thickened. Once finished, set the mixing bowl aside.

Step Three: Boil the Pasta

Put the pasta into the boiling pot of water. Let it boil for ten to eleven minutes or until al dente and twist it around. To know if it is al dente, it has to be firm to the bite as well as soft, but not super chewy. If you throw the pasta anywhere and it sticks, it most likely means you have overcooked it. To see how it is, simply taste it.

Step Four: Browning

When browning, do not use garlic or oil. There is going to be a lot of fat rendered, so it is not necessary to have oil. Do not use garlic because traditionally it is not used. Not only that, but it destroys the flavor of the meat. I can see why people say it can enhance it, in this case it ruins the appreciation to the flavor of the guanciale or the different meats that I suggested. Take a cast iron skillet, if you do not have one, just use a regular skillet. Using a cast iron skillet allows the meat to brown more efficiently, keeps it warm, and I think it enhances the flavor more. If you are using cast iron, preheat the skillet first. If not, just cook it in medium high heat. While browning, make sure you take the fat out little by little. That way, it allows for the meat to be crispy and cook more efficiently. Additionally, you do not want the fat to be burned or look super dark. Cook the meat until it has a golden brown color.

Step Five: Strain the Pasta and put it in the Skillet

Strain the pasta, but do not dump out the pasta water. The pasta water will be used again and keep the water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off the heat because if you are using cast iron, that heat is locked in. If you are not using a cast iron skillet, do not be afraid to let the pasta water drip into the skillet. Either way, still turn off the heat. If you add water into a really hot skillet, it is going to be hot even more. Lightly put the pasta into the skillet as well as the fat from the meat in and mix. However, save a tablespoon of fat for the next step. I found that it allows the meat flavoring into the pasta and it absorbs the flavor. Mix and let it bathe for a minute.

Step Six: Add Pasta Water in the "Cream"

With that pasta water that has been sitting for 140 degrees Fahrenheit, add four tablespoons of that water into your "cream mixture." Add a tablespoon of the fat as well. Mix until it is creamy.

Step Seven: Mix it all Together

Turn to a low heat for the skillet and scoop the creamy mixture in. Add two tablespoons of pasta water into the pan. The pasta water is going to prevent the "cream" mixture to not accidentally cook the egg. I cannot stress this enough, do not be distracted. You need to put your full attention to mixing it. Mixing it improperly can ruin your carbonara instantly due to the fact that you could possibly make scrambled eggs with it. Mix until the pasta is creamy. Remember, be fast and continuously mix the pasta with the cream around. Do this for one minute and serve immediately.

Step Eight: Plating

You can plate it however you want it. You can dump the whole skillet onto the plate if you wanted to. Be warned, the dish is very heavy in the sense of calories. Do not eat it in large portions. For garnishing, shred parmesan cheese on top of the pasta and then use black pepper. Do not add anything else, even if it is for "color."