Bucatini alla Carbonara is probably one of my favorite pasta dishes. Carbonara is a popular Roman dish (as are Amatriciana and alla Gricia) that combines eggs and cheese and turns them into a creamy sauce bursting with flavor. Although spaghetti is often served with Carbonara, I love how a thick bucatini handles this silky sauce.
Rome, Italy is the birthplace of Carbonara. It is only fitting that this masterpiece comes from Rome. If there was ever a dish that was a work of art, this is it. It is absolutely genius that someone took raw eggs, combined them with fried pork and pecorino romano cheese and created such a rich silky sauce all in under 10 minutes. It takes longer to cook the pasta then to make this simple sauce.
Is carbonara sauce made with cream?
You will notice that I have not mentioned heavy cream or cream of any kind in the ingredients for this recipe. That is because there is no cream in Carbonara. Many cooks outside of Italy use cream to make this sauce in order to create the silky texture. But I guarantee that you will not need to add any cream in order to achieve the creaminess of a perfect Carbonara.
You need simple ingredients
In authentic Roman recipes eggs, pecorino romano, guanciale (cured pork cheek) and black pepper are the only ingredients that create the sauce. I have modified the recipe slightly by substituting pancetta for the guanciale and adding some garlic. I use pancetta, just because it is easier to find in my local market and the garlic, well because we love it.
How to make Bucatini alla Carbonara
Prepare the sauce during the last few minutes of the pasta’s cook time.
- Cook the pancetta and garlic over medium heat in a little olive oil.
- Beat the egg yolks and the grated pecorino romano together in a bowl.
- When the bucatini is cooked, strain it and add it to the pancetta and garlic. Mix it well and remove the skillet from the heat.
- Immediately add the egg and cheese and quickly stir or toss the pasta. Continue to stir the pasta rapidly. The sauce will become creamy and silky as it coats the pasta. You want to do this off of the heat so that the egg cooks as it mixes with the hot pasta, but they do not scramble.
If you would like to thin the sauce out a bit you can add a little pasta water. Grind black pepper over the top, toss again and serve.
What to do with leftovers?
This pasta is so good it is not likely that you will have leftovers, but if you do, you can store them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for a couple of days.
Carbonara should be enjoyed as soon as it is prepared. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
As with this version of the recipe, pancetta is an excellent substitute for guanciale. If you can’t find either in your grocery store, you can use bacon.
Bucatini is a long hollow pasta that resembles and is often substituted for spaghetti. Because of it’s hollow center it is made using a pasta extruder rather than being rolled by hand.
Additional pasta recipes to try:
Simple Spaghetti alla Carbonara
- 1 lb. Spaghetti
- 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
- ¼ lb. Pancetta or Guanciale, diced
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 cups Pecorino Romano grated
- 4 Egg Yolks large
- Black Pepper
- Salt for pasta water
- 1 tbsp Parsley chopped
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta. Salt the water generously and stir to keep the spaghetti from sticking. Cook the pasta for about 10 minutes or until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot add the pancetta and cook for a minute or two.
- When the pancetta starts to brown, add the garlic and cook just until it is tender.
- Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and stir in the pecorino romano cheese.
- When the pasta is cooked drain it, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.
- Immediately add the pasta to the skillet and toss well.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add the egg and cheese to the pasta, tossing it quickly so that the egg does not scramble and the sauce becomes creamy.
- You can add a bit of pasta water to the pasta if the sauce if you would like to thin it out if it is too thick.
- Season with ground black pepper and parsley and serve with additional cheese.