Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This dish has two different stories relating to its origins. The first tells us of the carbonari, or charcoal burners, living on the banks of rivers like the Tiber. These families lived with just a few basics: a sheep for milk and cheese, hens for eggs, and a pig for fresh and cured meats. Their lives were dusted with black charcoal flakes and the ever-present smoke. So the recipe honours these people, by putting together the cheese, eggs and pancetta, and the ground black pepper represents the flakes of charcoal. Some think it was a more recent invention, created for the American GIs at the end of the Second World War because they constantly demanded ‘ham and eggs’, and the locals obliged with this creation!


  • 400 g/14 oz bucatini or spaghetti
  • 200 g/7 oz pancetta, guanciale or best-quality streaky/fatty bacon, cubed
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 75 ml/5 tbsp freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and stir. Return to the boil and cook according to the pack instructions until al dente.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, dry-fry the pancetta, guanciale or bacon in a very hot frying pan until crisp and the fat has run.
  3. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the cheese and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pan, then turn off the heat.
  5. Immediately pour the egg mixture and the pancetta into the pan, and stir together so that the eggs scramble very lightly and bring the other ingredients together. The fat from the pancetta should sizzle as it mingles with the pasta.
  6. Serve sprinkled with cheese and pepper.