I'm certainly not the first food blogger to reference Marcella Hazan, and I think I can safely predict that I will not be the last. She is considered one of the foremost authorities on Italian cuisine, and her book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is one that I constantly turn to when cooking Italian dishes. The book was originally published over thirty years ago as two separate volumes, The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking, and the combined volume has been revised, updated, and expanded. Of her first book, British food writer Roy Andries de Groot wrote, "Marcella's book is the most authentic guide to Italian food ever written in the U.S." No small compliment, to be sure.
According to Essentials, spaghetti carbonara sauce has its roots in Rome during the last days of World War II when American soldiers brought eggs and bacon to local families to make into a pasta sauce. Pancetta is the preferred meat in this dish, although a good mellow slab bacon can be used. The recipe cooks quickly and makes a great weeknight meal.
I now use gluten-free pasta to make this easy budget meal. Choose your favorite brand and enjoy!
WARNING: The eggs in this dish do not cook fully, they are simply beaten and tossed with the hot cooked pasta. Hazan notes a salmonella warning in her recipe, so you should take care to use the freshest available eggs and make sure that they are stored properly. If you are really concerned about it, you can use an egg substitute such as Egg Beaters®, which is pasteurized.
Classic Spaghetti Carbonara
- 8-quart pot with a lid
- small saute pan
- medium to large serving bowl (large enough to allow you to toss around a pound of cooked pasta with the sauce)
- 16 ounces gluten-free spaghetti
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces pancetta (cut into 1/4-inch wide strips)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Add 6 quarts of water to the 8-quart pot and bring to a boil. Cook the spaghetti to al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, mash the garlic lightly and remove the skin. Add the garlic and olive oil to the saute pan and cook over medium high heat, until the garlic turns a deep gold. Remove the garlic and discard it.
- Add the pancetta strips to the pan and saute until they become crisp around the edges. Stir in the white wine and let it bubble for a minute or two, then turn off the heat.
- Add the beaten eggs to the serving bowl. Stir in the romano and parmigiano cheeses, 3 or 4 grinds of fresh black pepper, and the chopped parsley.
- Drain the spaghetti and add it to bowl. Toss well.
- Reheat the pancetta strips for about a minute, then pour the contents of the pan in with the pasta. Toss it all together and serve immediately.