Italian cuisine is characterised by its flavourful dishes using only a handful of ingredients and Carbonara is the simplest and most satisfying pasta of them all.
The dish takes its name from the carbonai charcoal-burners who would set out into the mountains of Umbria and Abruzzo for a long summer of work. From only limited supplies out in the forest, Carbonara was born, a hearty dish which could be prepared using readily available and easy-to-conserve rural ingredients; spaghetti, guanciale cured pork, eggs and pecorino cheese.
As the humble recipe spread across Italy and beyond, each region developed its own variation, just as tasty as the next. There are those who added cream, some who swore by onion, others never left out the garlic, the Spanish even added mushrooms. But it was in the Eternal City that Carbonara found its way back to its truest form and was perfected as a staple of Roman cuisine. Nothing fancy, just those four original ingredients.
Perfect for a lazy summer evening, Carbonara is easy to throw together in under 30 minutes. To make it even more of a breeze, our version of this classic dish calls for simple Italian pork sausage and uses egg-based fettuccine all’uovo pasta for a smooth rich texture. Cook it all up in a cast iron pan, just like the carbonai did on their campfire in the mountains and enjoy your rustic Italian summer experience. Buon appetito!
120 g fettuccine all’uovo*
2 Italian pork sausages
2 large free-range eggs
½ cup finely grated pecorino cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
- Make sure the eggs and sausages are brought to room temperature before starting. Prepare a medium size pot of boiling water and add a teaspoon of sea salt. Add the fettuccine and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen the nests. When cooked, turn off the heat, carefully drain out the water but reserve about a cup of water in the pot with the pasta. Add a dash of olive oil into the pasta pot and stir to prevent sticking while you cook the sauce.
- Remove the sausage skin and break up into small pieces. In a pre-heated cast iron pan, cook the sausage on medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil until cooked through and just browning.
- Pour the pasta along with the conserved water into the cast iron pan, be careful of splashing. Stir vigorously as the water evaporates and the pasta infuses with the sausage oils. Remove from the heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the pecorino cheese and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Check to see that there is no more steam coming off the pasta when stirred in the cast iron pan. (This means that the pan is cool enough for you to add the egg mixture without scrambling the eggs.) Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and stir to coat evenly. As you stir, the residual heat of the pan will gently cook the egg into a creamy sauce.
- Serve topped with grated pecorino cheese, fresh parsley and a glass of chilled white Italian wine. Buon appetito!
*120 g (two 60g nests) of fettuccine are usually enough for two moderately hungry people, but if you’re feeling really hungry, add another half for a total of 150g dried pasta.
For a vegetarian-friendly version, simply substitute the sausage for zucchini and follow the same Instructions.