At a recent cooking class at the Silo, the cooking school on Ruth and Skitch Henderson’s old estate in New Milford, CT, I decided to demonstrate one of the quickest and easiest pasta dishes of the Italian kitchen: spaghetti alla carbonara. Call it Italy’s version of bacon and eggs if you will–with pasta added.
No question that it’s sturdy fare for cool weather, but it’s also a fast summer fix for lunch or dinner–I first ate it as a young girl on a sizzling August day in a trattoria along the Amalfi coast.
Outside of Italy, this sensational and most simple of Italian pasta dishes is rarely made correctly: cream, wine, and willy-nilly all kinds of other things are thrown in. The genuine recipe, whose origins are a mystery despite speculation of all kinds, consists of nothing more than extra-virgin olive oil, Italian bacon (pancetta) and eggs, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, spaghetti, salt and pepper—in that order. You’ll find the original, in all its simple glory in my newest book, Italian Home Cooking: 125 Recipes to Comfort Your Soul, published by Kyle Books, 2010 (grazie to journalist-food historian Rosario Scarpato and ITChef). For a variation using fusilli, see my latest book for Williams-Sonoma, The Pasta Book: The Ultimate Collection (2010).