Traditionally, spaghetti or fettuccine carbonara doesn’t contain cream. It’s the pasta water and egg yolk that gives it a deliciously golden creaminess. But, over the years, this traditional Italian dish has been chopped and changed.
Some cooks like to add cream, or even white wine to give it something more. However, the traditional recipe is just beautiful and the extra cream actually doesn’t improve it. Neither does the wine, as it seems to overpower the classic flavours.
See the recipe for our take on the traditional spaghetti carbonara.
While traditional carbonara contains pecorino romano, many people don’t like the strong flavours of sheep’s milk cheese. Therefore, a sharp parmesan substitutes just fine in this dish.
The Italian sauce typically contains guanciale or pancetta, but you could use an alternative salty pork such as bacon or prosciutto if that’s all you have in your fridge at the time. It will still be tasty with bacon.
We don’t add salt or olive oil to the pasta when it’s cooking, but if you choose to do so, that’s suitable too. Obviously, you can use fresh pasta or homemade pasta too if you’re inclined to do so.
Remember not to drain the pasta water off. Just use tongs to take it out and feel free to pour in some of the pasta water depending on how creamy you want the dish to be.
Also, if you’re vegetarian or trying to reduce your salt content, just leave out the pancetta. The creaminess of the eggs and the punchy flavour of the garlic, cheese and herbs will be enough to still really enjoy the spaghetti carbonara.
Finally, always cook this dish on low heat to avoid overcooking the eggs and turning them into a scramble. This is intended to be a quick and simple Italian dish.
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