Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of the most delicious pasta dishes the Italians make. With just four main ingredients, it’s a breeze to prepare. People worry about having raw eggs in the sauce, though I think the eggs cook with the heat from the spaghetti.I’ve never had a problem, but if you’re really concerned, you could use pasteurized eggs or omit the eggs altogether.
Traditionally, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is made with guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian bacon made from pork cheeks or jowls. It’s delicious, but unfortunately, I can’t get guanciale where I live. Thankfully, you can substitute bacon or pancetta. Half a pound of bacon is good for a pound of pasta, but my family likes lots of bacon so I use a whole pound. I never have leftovers when I make this dish.
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA
1 lb. spaghetti noodles (can also use fettucine or linguine)
1 lb. bacon (or pancetta or guanciale), sliced into ½-inch strips
½ small onion, diced
3 large eggs
1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt, plus extra for the boiling water
¼ tsp. pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, set another large pot over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy; then remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
In the same pot, sauté the onions in the bacon grease until the onions become translucent; remove the pot from the heat and add the bacon back in.
When the water in the first pot is boiling briskly, add the spaghetti and boil until al dente.
While the spaghetti is boiling, prepare the sauce. It’s important to make the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the noodles will be hot when the sauce is done. The heat from the noodles is what cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
To make the sauce, beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork; then stir in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
Drain the cooked pasta well, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
Slowly drizzle the reserved hot pasta water into the egg mixture, mixing well. This tempers the eggs, so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs in your pasta.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pot with the bacon and onions.
Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss all together until the noodles are well-coated with the sauce and the cheese is melted.
Taste the spaghetti and adjust the seasonings. Depending on the pork you used, you may need to add more salt.
My Mom occasionally made Chicken Spaghetti for us when we were growing up in the Philippines. I don’t remember what she put in her Chicken Spaghetti, but this is my version created from the faded recollection of a much-enjoyed childhood dish. The ingredients don’t sound very “native” to the Philippines, but Filipinos love cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta cheese which were brought over by the Americans during World War II and which have remained Filipino favorites to this day (along with the ever-popular Spam, of course). LOL!
This recipe makes a really big casserole so it’s perfect for a party or a potluck. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you’re feeding a smaller group of people.
1 lb. spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds
1 cooked rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded (about 3-4 cups)
1 lb. bacon, diced into ½-inch pieces
½ medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 small cans (4 oz. each) sliced mushrooms, undrained
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. velveeta cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup water
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, for topping
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, for topping
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
Add spaghetti to boiling water and cook just until al dente.
Pour into a colander to drain.
Put bacon in the same pot you used to cook the spaghetti and fry until crispy.
Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pot.
Sauté onions in the bacon grease until they start to become translucent.
Add red bell pepper and sauté until crisp-tender.
Stir in the mushrooms with juice, mushroom soup, velveeta cheese, and water.
Cook, stirring, until velveeta is completely melted.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Remove from heat, then stir in shredded chicken, cooked spaghetti, and bacon.
Pour into an extra large casserole dish, or two medium size ones.
Sprinkle top with shredded cheddar cheese, then grated parmesan cheese.