Spaghetti alla carbonara, like many classic Italian pasta dishes, is definitely one of those dishes where the end result feels like so much more than the small number of ingredients that go into it. But with cheese and flavorful bacon/pancetta, how can you go wrong?
This pasta dish is a classic, simple and easy dish that you’ll instantly love. You’ll find recipes with a few small variations and here I have made my own with mushrooms added. For whatever reason I have pretty much always included mushrooms when I have made this and to me, they go really well and add to an already delicious dish with their simple earthiness. It might not be the prettiest of meals, but it is so easy and tasty, it’s definitely one to add to your list if it’s not there already.
I find it a bit funny that there can be quite hearty debate over the few ingredients in carbonara that has so few to begin with –
- Should it be bacon, pancetta or guanciale?
- Cream or no cream?
- Are peas sacrilege or an acceptable addition?
There seems to be less debate on the cheese, with either pecorino romano or parmesan (or a mix of both) being fine. Traditionally, the answer would appear to be guanciale (or maybe pancetta), no cream and no peas, and pecorino the preference since it’s a dish from the Rome area.
Personally I think you can go with whatever bacon-like form you have, just use something that has a good flavor. And while I don’t tend to add cream as I think the flavor is delicious enough without it – and arguably you probably get more of the bacon flavor coming through which I think can never be bad – you are welcome to add a bit if you like. As I said I tend to add mushrooms as I think the flavor goes really well and so haven’t felt the need for peas, which don’t really feel like they go as well anyway, but again as you prefer.
How it’s made
Cooking spaghetti alla carbonara is very easy – simply cook your bacon in a pan so that you render the fat out and crisp it up. Meanwhile, get your pasta cooking. Then remove the bacon from the pan and cook the garlic and mushrooms – they take on the delicious flavors from the bacon as well. Whisk up the eggs with the cheese then drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. Turn off the heat and add the pasta to the pan with the mushrooms. Add back the bacon, mix, then pour over the egg mixture
Tips for perfect spaghetti alla carbonara
As I say, this isn’t a difficult recipe, but a couple tips:
- Remove the pan from the heat when you add the egg-cheese mixture and mix fairly quickly to avoid getting scrambled eggs.
- Use tongs to help you mix without breaking things up.
- Add a little reserved pasta water to thin it out and make more of a sauce, if you like.
- Try a mixture of smoked bacon and pancetta for a tasty balance of flavors.
Spaghetti alla carbonara with mushrooms is a very quick dish to make with a few simple ingredients that turns into something incredibly delicious. It’s always gobbled down pretty quickly in our household, and I dare you to see if you have the same response. Given how quick it is to make, it’s definitely worth the small amount of effort to try it out.
Spaghetti alla carbonara with mushrooms
- 6 oz smoked bacon 170g, or traditionally pancetta or guanciale - can use a blend
- 8 oz spaghetti 225g, or linguini
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 4 1/2 oz mushrooms 125g, sliced
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup pecorino 10g, approx, freshly grated - can also use parmesan
- If not already cut, dice the bacon/pancetta into relatively small pieces.
- Warm a skillet or other relatively large, open pan and put the bacon in to cook, stirring now and then as it browns. Cook for a good 5min or so until it is starting to crisp.
- Meanwhile cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions, ideally al dente.
- Remove the bacon from the pan and place on kitchen paper to drain.
- Add the garlic and mushrooms to the pan with the rendered bacon fat and cook until tender - increase the heat if need be to remove excess liquid.
- Whisk the eggs and add the grated parmesan/pecorino so it is well mixed through.
- Drain the pasta once it is cooked, reserving some of the pasta water.
- Remove the mushrooms from the heat and add back the bacon and add the pasta.
- Pour over the egg mixture along with a little pasta water and mix through quickly so that it coats the pasta and cooks but without making scrambled eggs. Add a little more pasta water as needed to form a slight sauce but without being runny.
- Serve with a little more cheese on top.
Try these other tasty, classic pasta dishes:
With tuna and tomatoes, pasta puttanesca
Simply eggplant and tomato, pasta alla Norma
A simple Sicilian dish, pasta con sarde a mare.
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