1cupgrated cheeseParmesan OR Pecorino Romano OR a mix - see notes
ground black pepper
½cuppasta cooking water
8ozcured porkdiced or in batons; Guanciale OR pancetta are best; thick bacon is an easy and suitable substitute - see notes
Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and season it with 1 tablespoon water. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.
Prepare cheese sauce: In the meantime, add eggs, parmesan cheese, parsley and ground black pepper to a mixing bowl and whisk together well. Remove ½ cup of pasta cooking water from the boiling pot of pasta and slowly (!!) trickle it into the egg and cheese mixture while whisking well. Set aside.
Cook bacon: Add olive oil to a large and deep skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy.
Finish dish: Toss the cooked pasta with the bacon in the skillet, then take the pan off the heat. Keep tossing the pasta as you add the egg and cheese mixture, until the pasta is coated in a silky sauce. Serve immediately!
Pork: The most traditional cut I have found (this is according to my own research and my own research only) is Guanciale, which is made from pig cheeks/pork jowls. Pancetta is definitely a great substitute, but make sure to buy dicedpancetta and not the thinly-sliced pancetta used for sandwiches.Bacon yields a slightly different flavor, because it is often smoked – while pancetta and Guanciale are cured. I do personally like a carbonara-inspired dish made with bacon, but it is most definitely not authentic. I highly recommend using thick-cut bacon you slice into batons yourself, or using diced bacon over thin breakfast-style bacon slices.If your butcher offers lardons (cured fatty pork cut into batons – which is what you can see in my ingredient photo above), they make for a very decent substitute, too. Lardons can be made from different pork cuts and tend to be budget-friendly. Some people use diced ham to create a lean version of the dish - but ham is definitely the most inauthentic ingredient you could use here.Cheese: As with the pork, I have seen, tasted and used different cheese varieties in this dish. Some recipes swear by using only Pecorino Romano, some swear by using only Parmigiano and some swear by using a mix of both.I recommend using what you enjoy most, and what you have available.Eggs:
For an extra-rich pasta sauce, use 6 egg yolks in the sauce.
For a rich pasta sauce, use 4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg.
For a medium-rich sauce, go for 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks.
For the lightest dish, use 3 whole eggs.
Add the boiling water carefully and slowly to the egg mixture, while continuously whisking. If you add it too fast or don’t whisk, you risk the eggs scrambling and curdling – which is not reversible, so you’d have to start with a fresh batch of egg and cheese mixture.
Likewise, add the egg mixture to the hot pasta slowly while continuously tossing and stirring the pasta in the pan. Always take the pan off the heat before adding the egg mixture.
I highly recommend setting aside an extra ½ cup of pasta cooking water, so you can add a few splashes more if needed to create a silky sauce.
This is a dish you need to serve as soon as it is finished – otherwise, the pasta will start soaking up the sauce and the spaghetti will be too dry and too mushy at the same time.