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Main Courses

The Ultimate Spaghetti Carbonara


Time: 20 minutes

Servings: 2

This is based on the recipe given by Marcella Hazan in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I have the greatest of respect for Marcella’s recipes, but she has a patronising and rather anally-retentive style that can get on one’s nerves. I have therefore omitted to give the precise dimensions to which the bacon pieces should be trimmed, and permitted myself a few liberties with the amounts.

  • 3 oz / 80 g bacon or pancetta, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • a dash of dry white wine
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 oz / 50 g freshly grated cheese (parmesan + cheddar, Gruyère, Sbrinz or similar)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • 7 oz / 200 g spaghetti
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Peel the garlic and squash the cloves a little with the flat of a knife. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the whole cloves until they are a deep golden brown. Throw them away.
  2. Add the bacon or pancetta to the garlic-flavoured oil and cook until it starts to go crispy. Throw in the wine, let it bubble away for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs in what will eventually be your serving bowl; add lots of grindings of black pepper, the parsley, cream and grated cheese.
  4. Cook the pasta, drain it and add it to the eggy mixture. Toss it quickly and thoroughly, making sure all the strands are coated with thickening egg and melting cheese.
  5. Add the bacon and toss again.
  6. Serve it in heated bowls (all the tossing tends to cool the spaghetti quite rapidly).