Pasta Carbonara

I've seen recipes for pasta carbonara made with a variety of other ingredients: leaks, onion, garlic, (added during the cooking of the bacon) or pimentos, and black olives, (added at the end, after the eggs and Parmesan). I tried one recipe which used saffron, but it seemed that the other flavors overpowered the saffron, and saffron is quite expensive.

If you can find (and afford) it, use pancetta instead of bacon. Pancetta is cured, not smoked like bacon, and has some other flavors, nutmeg, fennel, hot red pepper, and garlic, used in the curing process. It will give your carbonara a different flavor. I will say though that it still tastes really good using bacon.

In most recipes, you cook the bacon until it is transparent, not crisp -- it just seems too rubbery and undercooked to me if you don't cook it until it is crisp. Anyway I like the recipe as it is here.


¼ pound bacon -- chopped (or pancetta if you want to be authentic)
1 cup milk (whole milk works best, but skim, 1% or 2% work too)
1 stick (¼ pound) butter (this has to be real butter)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 pound pasta (I like to use spaghetti, but any pasta will work)
2 eggs -- whipped (or at least well beaten, I just do this by hand)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese -- freshly grated is preferred
      (you can use the pre-grated stuff if you have to)
Salt and pepper -- to taste

Preparing the Dish

Cook the bacon in skillet until it is just crisp, then add the milk and butter. As soon as the butter is completely melted, add the vinegar. This will turn the milk into a cheese. Simmer this sauce for about 15 minutes, until it cooks smooth.

Cook your favorite pasta al dente. Drain, and add to the skillet mixture, coating the pasta with the sauce. Add the beaten eggs and the Parmesan cheese, and toss.

Add salt and pepper. Serve with a salad, garlic bread, and a good Italian red wine.