Carbonara is a pasta dish that is popular at any Filipino party. If you find a pasta dish cooking in a Filipino kitchen it’s probably one of two kinds: a sweet, tomato-based spaghetti, or the creamy, meaty carbonara. Authentic carbonara is flavorful and delicious; the heaviness of the sauce balances well with the salty pork you cook it in. But in authentic carbonara, like the one we’re making today, we won’t actually be needing cream at all!
It’s true –– you don’t make authentic carbonara with heavy cream; you make it with eggs! A mixture of eggs and cheese is what gives authentic carbonara that rich flavor. There aren’t that many other ingredients to carbonara: with pepper, pork, and cheese, you can make your own carbonara in no time.
A Rich (and Creamy) History
An Italian dish by origin, carbonara is one of the four classic Roman pastas, the others being gricia, cacio y pepe, and amatriciana. All four pastas use pecorino romano, a cheese you can make from sheep’s milk. But the name carbonara comes from the word carbonaro (or Italian for “charcoal burner”). Because of this, many assume that carbonara was the main meal of several coal miners back then. Its ingredients are easy to source and the recipe itself is easy to cook. This makes it the ideal meal for the working class.
Carbonara’s popularity grew and spread across the world after World War II, finding its way even here in Filipino cuisine. Since then, the recipe for this creamy pasta has been modified. Filipino-style carbonara is more similar to alfredo due to its use of heavy cream. It takes a little more cooking time than authentic carbonara, where the sauce is gradually poured at the end of the cooking process.
Many claim that the original authentic carbonara recipe calls for guanciale, or pork jowl. This recipe will be using pancetta (pork belly) instead. Some versions of carbonara have even swapped out the pancetta for bacon or ham. Others even add other ingredients like mushrooms to the classic dish. My Filipino Style Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Carbonara takes our Filipino-style carbonara and gives it that delicious twist. Some versions will add other meat alongside the pancetta, like what I do in this Chicken Carbonara recipe.
This authentic carbonara recipe is so easy, and takes little to no prep time. Thick, creamy, and meaty, it’s a great meal to share with family members young and old. Try this authentic carbonara when you’re looking for a quick but delicious meal to enjoy.
A Step by Step Guide to Creamy Authentic Carbonara
The first step to making authentic carbonara is making the sauce. It’s best to make the sauce before cooking the pasta instead of doing it simultaneously. Because you’ll be working with eggs, hot pasta may end up scrambling them before they get the chance to become sauce.
Start with your authentic carbonara sauce by cracking 5 eggs into a bowl and beating them into a bowl. Once the texture is smooth, add in your Pecorino cheese. If you don’t have Pecorino cheese on hand, parmesan also works well. Continue whisking these two ingredients, mixing them well. Season it with ground black pepper to taste. Afterwards, set it aside and cook your pasta.
Cook your spaghetti according to your package instructions. Don’t forget to salt your pasta water! Salting your pasta water will add flavor to your noodles, even before mixing the sauce in. Once you’ve cooked your pasta noodles to your liking, set them aside.
Sear your 10 ounces of Pancetta on a clean skillet until it’s a beautiful brown color. Cooking your pancetta will extract oil from the meat; once there’s enough, add your pasta to the skillet. Toss the pasta and the meat together.
Now, combine ¼ cup tap water and ½ cup pasta water. Pour it into the cheese and egg mixture you made prior. Mix them well, then pour your authentic carbonara sauce into the skillet with the spaghetti and pancetta. Toss your ingredients while cooking it on low heat. Make sure you’ve distributed all the ingredients well!
After seasoning with more ground black pepper to taste, your authentic carbonara is ready to be served! Share and enjoy with the rest of your family!
How to Make Authentic Carbonara
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 10 ounces Panceta
- 2 1/2 cups Pecorino cheese grated
- 5 pieces egg
- 6 cups water for boiling
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Ground black pepper
- Crack the eggs in a bowl. Beat until the texture becomes smooth.
- Add Pecorino cheese. Continue mixing until cheese and eggs are well blended. Season with ground black pepper. Set aside.
- Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Set aside.
- Sear Panceta on a clean skillet until it browns, and enough oil gets extracted.
- Add cooked pasta in the skillet. Toss.
- Combine ¼ cup tap water and ½ cup pasta water and then pour into the sauce mixture. Mix well.
- Pour the sauce into the skillet. Toss while cooking in low heat until well distributed.
- Season with more ground black pepper.
- Serve. Share and enjoy!