Pasta alla Carbonara

Yesterday I went on an epic run, which subsequently demanded an epic meal, and concluded inevitably with an epic nap.  Such is the raw power of a good carbonara, the classy Italian cousin of Mac and Cheese.

Breakfast? Still not sold. Delicious? No doubt.

I was surprised to see it on a brunch menu at this place in NYC a few weeks ago – who gets spaghetti with their coffee? Apparently some of the same people who like their environs to be astoundingly pink: sitting in Prune is like entering Bridget’s head.  Except that they were playing Sea Change.  That’s like entering my head.  Basically what I’m trying to say is if you take the preferred color scheme of your toddler niece, combine it with the indie rock sensibilities of college radio 2002, and tie it all together with spaghetti and coffee … OK Prune is tasty.  We should go.  Carbonara is tasty.  You should make it.  Let’s move on, shall we?

Look at the bacon hiding in the back there like it's not about to take over this entire operation.

What you’re working with is essentially bacon, eggs, cheese, and pasta.  Garlic is a given, and pepper adds some pop.  I also really liked the parsley flavor for garnish.  Make sure to use fresh parsley of course, not the dried flakes, because you are not a goldfish.

You can throw in a vegetable to add color or flavor, but make no mistake: this is not a healthy meal, and never will be, the selection of organic wheat spaghetti notwithstanding.  Once you dump your pasta into the sizzling pools of garlicky bacon grease, and then pour eggs and cheese over the top, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about: it’s a non-stop ride to Cholesterolville, and bacon is driving like a madman.  If that is not the worst sentence I’ve ever written, it’s damn close.


  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 ounces bacon or pancetta, cubed or in small strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 cup cheese – parmesan is your base, but I had some leftover 4-cheese mix with asiago, etc that was lovely
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1-2 tomatoes.  Or peas.  Or mushrooms
  • Note: If you read the above and thought that you should add “1-2 peas,” you read the ingredients section too closely.
  • Save a half cup of the starchy pasta water to add to your sauce to thin it out.


It’s pretty straightforward, but this is one set of steps you do want to follow.  You may want to have the egg/cheese sauce waiting so you can just pour it in.

1. Boil the pasta and time it so that it’s done about the same time as the bacon…

2. Fry the bacon in olive oil 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic a minute after that.  Let your nose celebrate.

3.  Add the pasta to the bacon/oil/garlic and toss to coat with grease.  Yes, this is the pan you should dump your pasta into:

4.  Beat the eggs with cheese in a mixing bowl, keeping the mixture as smooth as possible.  Turn off the heat in the pan so you don’t scramble the eggs when you pour the sauce in.  Pour the egg/cheese sauce over the pasta while it is still hot.  This will cook the eggs.

5. Add some of your starchy pasta water to thin out the sauce if you want. I added about 1/4 cup. Add tomatoes.

6. Add pepper to taste and continue to toss. I like lots of pepper.

7. Garnish with parsley.

8.  Serve in a bowl. It’s just way better that way.  Sprinkle more cheese and grind more pepper to taste.  Twirl your fork around the pasta a few times too.  You’ve burned a few calories making this – replace them en masse!

An "almost-done" look. Parsley is your friend.


3 thoughts on “Pasta alla Carbonara

  1. Pingback: May 11, 2010 – Pasta alla Carbonara, $5.41 « Frugal Hausfrau's Blog

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