Traditional Carbonara (No Cream)

Traditional Carbonara (No Cream)

What you need

Serves 2

  • 80g guanciale 
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 100g pecorino, grated
  • 2 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed with the back of a knife

What you need to do

First things first. Let's talk about guanciale.

Guanciale is a type of Italian cured pork, made from the cheek of a pig. Yep, you can make this recipe with pancetta or bacon, but nope it won't be the same. Guanciale is what gives traditional carbonara it's distinct flavour. It's a little hard to find, but it's worth the hunt. Sydneysiders – I get mine from Norton St Grocer. 

Traditional Carbonara Recipe - Guanciale Cut

Get started by dicing your guanciale into half centimetre cubes.

Traditional Carbonara Recipe - Guanciale

Crush your peppercorns. This next touch is subtle but amazing. Don't skip it. 

Sift the crushed peppercorns. This will seperate the strong, powdery part of the pepper from the milder shells. 

Put your crushed pepper aside.

Traditional Carbonara Recipe - Sifting Pepper

While a large non stick pan is still cold, add your guanciale, crushed garlic and half the pepper. Turn on the heat, keeping it on a low temp.

This will allow the fat to render out instead of drying up. First, you'll notice the fatty parts of the gunaciale turn transparent – like this. 

Traditional Carbonara Recipe - Frying Guanciale

Now's a good time to put your spaghetti on the boil. You only want to cook it until it's al dente, so 6-8 minutes should be enough.

Slowly, but surely, your guanciale will cook to a crisp. The excitement will mount. 

Tip: If you're still waiting for your pasta to boil at this point, keeping your guanciale together can help stop it from drying out. 

Traditional Carbonara Recipe - Crispy Guanciale

Hold it together and remove your garlic from the pan.

When the pasta is al dente, it's go time. Grab a pair of tongs and drag the pasta into your pan.

Letting a little water enter the pan is good. It'll emulsify with the guanciale fat, creating the "creamy" feel of the pasta. In fact, when you're done transferring the pasta, continue adding a few splashes of water.

Traditional Carbonara Recipe - Tossing Pasta

While you do this you'll hear a sizzling sound. Keep tossing the pasta until it stops. 

At this point, and no sooner, add your egg. (Doing this too early can cause it to scramble)

Add half your grated cheese and toss it around like a boss.

Traditional Carbonara Recipe - No cream finish

You just made traditional, surprisingly cream free carbonara. 

If you've got a good bottle of wine handy, crack it. This one's worth celebrating.

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