Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara is, hands down, my favorite pasta dish. But, a lot of people are confused about what it is. If you’ve ever had this dish at an Olive Garden or another chain Italian restaurant, you make think that Carbonara consists of some form of Alfredo sauce with bacon. While this definitely doesn’t taste bad (who doesn’t like cheesy sauce and bacon?), it is so wrong.

Italian food often gets a bad reputation for being unhealthy, but that is a misconception. Often, American versions of Italian food are very unhealthy. Italians rarely use cream in their dishes. Which means that, yes, Fettuccini Alfredo is 100% an American pasta dish.  Cream is delicious and it is fine if you prefer it that way. Just know, it is not authentic.

I’ve seen dishes labeled as Spaghetti Carbonara that have any assortment of bacon, Alfredo, spinach, olives, peas, and tomatoes. However, real Spaghetti Carbonara consists of only eggs, pancetta, a small amount of olive oil, parmesan, and black pepper. Nearly every bowl of Carbonara will taste different, depending on the chef’s preference. I personally like mine to be heavier on the egg. Some people prefer much less egg and much more cheese. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to ratio of egg to cheese, so alter this according to your preference.

Ingredients

The ingredients I’ve used in this dish are so simple, I don’t feel that a picture is necessary.

For the pasta I used my Homemade Fresh Pasta, but boxed is absolutely fine. I usually opt for a thin spaghetti, but regular spaghetti is traditional. Bucatini is also a really good option for Carbonara.

Aside from that, I used pancetta. Pancetta is a salt cured pork, similar to prosciutto. Ask your deli to cut it thick so it can be diced. Bacon can be used as a substitute. Then, eggs, parmagianno-reggiano, salt, black pepper, olive oil, and a little bit of white pepper. White pepper is not traditional, but it gives it an extra pepper-y flavor.

The Recipe

The key to perfect Spaghetti Carbonara is all about timing. If you’re using regular boxed pasta, you’re going to want to start heating up the water right away. While that is boiling, put a bit of olive oil in a hot pan, then add your diced pancetta.

Let the pancetta bits brown on a medium-low heat, moving them around occasionally. While waiting for this and waiting for your pasta to boil, start on your egg sauce.

I typically like to stick to a ratio of 2 egg yolks to 1 whole egg, to keep the richness and to add the bright, yellow color. I make mine in a mug, just because its easy to mix and pour from, but a measuring cup would probably work better. Whisk your eggs together with a fork until they are smooth. Then add salt, cracked black pepper, and parmesan cheese. Then add a small amount of white pepper. Keep in mind that the pancetta and the parmesan are very salty ingredients, so don’t add too much salt to your dish until you taste it.

At this point, your boxed pasta should be almost done. If you’re using fresh pasta, add it in now. When it is done, strain it but save some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta in the pancetta pan with the heat turned off. It will sizzle a bit, add some pasta water if the pan is too hot. Get the oil from the pancetta to coat the pasta entirely.

Now, you can add the egg mixture to the pan. You want the pan to be hot enough that the eggs will render but not scramble. Pour it in but keep the pasta moving around the pan so the eggs don’t get too hard.

The eggs will turn slightly lighter in color, this is how you know you’re not eating raw eggs. Now, add salt, pepper, and cheese as needed.

Done!

I love this recipe because it is so simple. After having authentic Spaghetti Carbonara, you’ll have a hard time accepting the knockoff kind. If you love bacon (pancetta) & eggs, and you love pasta, you’ll love this dish!

Lowcountry Boil Pasta – A Twist On A Local Favorite

Lowcountry Boil, Frogmore Stew, Beaufort Boil. This dish goes by many names, but all consists of a stew of fresh shrimp, corn, sausage, potatoes, old bay, and lots of butter. This classic Lowcountry recipe is one that is easy to make and relatively cheap, considering our abundance of good quality shrimp. Native to Beaufort, I felt that I had to make some version of this dish.

I’ve chosen to make a different version of this by adding pasta with a creamy sauce. It’s pretty simple overall, and it adds another delicious dimension to the Lowcountry boil. As a fan of my hometown as well as my love for pasta, this dish was a no-brainer!

Ingredients:

If you aren’t lucky enough to live where you can easily get fresh local shrimp, try to opt for a higher quality shrimp from a fish market or the fish section of your grocery store. Using that, as opposed to frozen shrimp, will make the dish taste much fresher.

Shrimp

Once you have all of your ingredients, start prepping them. Start boiling a pot of water (for your shrimp) with a quartered lemon and a bag of crab boil. As this is boiling, start peeling and deveining your shrimp. Use this Shrimp Peeler & Deveiner Device to easily and quickly peel and devein. (It’s only $2!!). When the water is boiling, drop your shrimp in and let them cook until they turn pink. Take them out of the water just slightly before they are done, so that they can finish in the sauce.

Sausage

For the sausage, I chose a mild pork sausage, but andouille sausage or any other kind will work as well. Slice it into small pieces and sauté the pieces in a bit of olive oil. That’s about it for the sausage.

Potatoes

I boiled the potatoes in the same pot as the shrimp. Cut them into small pieces and boil until they are fork tender. Some of you may be wondering, “How can you put potatoes with pasta?” My answer to you is that this is a southern dish, and southerners don’t really care about having too many starches. Actually, we don’t think it’s possible to have too many starches. If you’re a bit more health conscious, feel free to ditch the potatoes.

The Sauce

For the sauce, I started with 4 table spoons of melted butter. I then added heavy cream in small increments. By the end, I had used almost the entire pint-sized box. I added one clove of minced garlic and let that cook down in the sauce. While continuing to add heavy cream, I added salt, pepper, and however much Old Bay you like. I also added about one ladle worth of salted pasta water (I was boiling the water for my pasta while making the sauce). Once you have the sauce to the flavor and consistency you want, add your sausage, shrimp, potatoes, and about half of the can of corn kernels. Let these heat up in the sauce, and crush the potatoes with your fork so that they can absorb some of the flavors.

When you’re at the point of reheating the items in the sauce is when you should add your pasta and let that cook. When the pasta is done, strain it and add it to the sauce. Add any extra salt, pepper, or Old Bay as needed. Mix it all together, and you’re done!

This Lowcountry Boil Pasta dish is a great way to eat a filling dinner that still very much resembles the classic Lowcountry boil. I can’t wait to remake this when I’m at school and feeling homesick! And, of course, I got the approval from the official taste tester: Bailey.

Overall, this dish is a relatively simple way to have a different take on a classic Lowcountry boil. And it turned out delicious! Just ask Bailey. Please subscribe if you enjoyed this post! Let me know how this turns out for you in the comments.

Emily 🙂

How To Make Fresh Pasta From Home

If you’ve ever had fresh pasta, you’ll know why I’m so obsessed with it. Although it is relatively time-consuming, making your own fresh pasta will absolutely improve the texture and quality of your pasta dish. Fresh pasta is so easy to customize to make different flavors. The best part is that you most likely already have all of the ingredients! Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on making fresh pasta at home!

*This recipe will yield about two large servings. If you are making this for a side dish, it will yield about four servings.*

Ingredients:
  • 2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 3 tbsp. warm water
  • Salt
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
Step One – The Dough:

  • In a large bowl (a bowl is not necessary, I use one for an easier clean up) make a well with the flour. Make sure there is enough room for two large eggs. Before adding the eggs, add as much or as little salt as you want.

  • Fill the well with two large eggs. Having a furry friend to help makes for better pasta (kidding).
  • Whisk the eggs with a fork, slowly mixing in the flour until it is fully incorporated. The eggs may fall out of the well, and that’s just fine. Just make sure you mix it well. Once your dough starts to form, add the warm water and continue to mix. Then, add a drizzle of olive oil.

Eventually, you will get this beautiful ball of pasta dough! I cut my dough ball in half, and that half is one large serving. Now, start kneading it with your hands and get it as flat as you can with just your hands.

Sprinkle both sides with flour, so it doesn’t stick to your pasta machine!

Step Two – Rolling The Dough:

Speaking of the pasta machine, it is definitely not necessary, but way easier. A pasta machine is not too expensive and is such an important tool if you like to make fresh pasta often. This is the one I use, and it’s currently 55% off! Pasta Maker Machine (177) By Cucina Pro

Closeup of the fettuccini and spaghetti cutter inserts

Now, pasta can absolutely be rolled and cut without a machine. It will just be more difficult to make anything thinner than a fettuccini. If you’re using this method, consider making lasagne, ravioli, tortellini, pappardelle, or fettuccini noodles. With this method, you’ll roll out your dough with a rolling-pin to your desired thickness. Then, with a precise knife or a pizza cutter, carefully slice the shape of the pasta that you want! Make sure you’re adding flour throughout to prevent stickiness.

If you are using a pasta machine, start with the roller on setting number one. Roll your flattened dough through here twice (or more if needed), before moving on to setting number two. 

Here are the progressions of my pasta dough. I went through setting number five. The settings get smaller and smaller as the numbers get bigger, making the dough thinner. 

This is the thinness I chose, and so I stopped here. At this point, I cut the sheet in half so it would be easier to handle while cutting.

Step Three – Cutting and Drying The Pasta:

Once your pasta is at your desired thickness or thinness, it’s time to choose your pasta shape and cut!

I chose spaghetti just because I prefer a thinner noodle and spaghetti is more versatile in my opinion. You’ll put the pasta sheet into the cutter and turn the handle just like you did in the roller section. Once you’ve put both halves of your pasta sheet into the cutter, add more flour and pull apart any noodles that are stuck together. 

At this point, you can leave it how it is and put it right into your boiling water, or you can let it dry a bit.

To let it dry, I make little pasta “nests.” First, I straighten the noodles into long strands. Make sure there’s enough flour, so they don’t stick together while they dry. Then, just wrap them up in a circular motion. 

Pasta Nest

Another way to dry your pasta is to hang it over the back of a chair (or a Pasta Drying Rack) after you’ve straightened the noodles.

Congrats! You’ve made fresh pasta! To cook it, just fill a pot with a decent amount of water (enough for the pasta to move around freely), salt the water, and drop your pasta in once it’s at a rolling boil.

Making fresh pasta does take a lot of steps. However, it is not hard at all with the right tools! I, by no means, have any issue with boxed pasta (trust me, I eat plenty of boxed pasta), but the fresh pasta will take your pasta dish to a new level. So excited for you all to try this! Let me know what your favorite pasta dish is in the comments!

Happy Cooking!

Emily 🙂