It is said this dish comes from the hills of central Italy near Rome. As the shepherds watched their flocks they carried bacon (pancetta), and pasta and made cheese. If they had the opportunity for eggs from a nearby farmer they would also incorporate the egg as a treat. Otherwise carbonara with egg was reserved for Roman high society.
There are many debates regarding this old and historic recipe. Cream or no cream? Onions and garlic?
You can try them all and create your favorite recipe. For wine paring with Italian food it is almost always a best to choose a wine from the same region of the food. In this case I recommend a nice Chianti from Tuscany north of Rome. Chianti is made from the sangiovese grape; it can only be called Chianti if it is grown in the Chianti region of Italy.
A few words on Pancetta: fatty Italian bacon that is not smoked. Using American bacon will be very smoky and prosciutto is too lean for this dish. Save the prosciutto for another great Italian dish with cream, onions and peas.
Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese, often used for grating, made out of sheep milk (the Italian word pecora, from which the name derives, means sheep).
1 lb dry spaghetti (dry is better than fresh for this sauce), boiled in salty water until still firm.
It is important that the spaghetti is very hot when tossed with the sauce and raw egg so the heat of the pasta will cook the egg. Save a cup or two of the starchy pasta water for the sauce.
4 oz pancetta, sliced and chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic minced
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano (prefer a soft less aged Romano for this dish)
2 eggs or 4 egg yolks (lightly beaten)
¼ cup of heavy cream (optional)
Freshly milled black pepper
2 T fresh parsley minced for garnish
In a sauté pan, cook the pancetta and olive oil until the pancetta is nearly crisp. Add garlic and only cook until soft, less than a minute. Add cream if desired until just hot and not reduced.
Remove pan from heat and add hot cooked spaghetti,
Add in egg and keep tossing until pasta is coated, then add Romano and continue tossing. Add hot pasta water as desired to loosen the sauce Mill fresh pepper to taste and salt.
Mound on a plate and sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy! Boun Appetito!