BIG TONI’S ITALIAN KITCHEN

Toni’s Carbonara (The Charcoal burners pasta)

(The coal miners or charcoal burners pasta)

Originally in Italy this pasta was known as the coal miner’s or charcoal burners pasta. Since the name is derived from carbonaro (the Italian word for charcoal burner), some believe the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers In parts of the United States the etymology gave rise to the term "coal miner's spaghetti". It has even been suggested that it was created as a tribute to the Carbonari ("charcoalmen"), a secret society prominent in the early, repressed stages of Italian unification. It seems more likely that it is an urban dish from Rome. And now it’s a great favorite worldwide including my family, I have been making and enjoying Carbonara for many years and this is a recipe I still follow and love. 

For wine to accompany this recipe have a look at Jason’s recommendations.

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For 4 to 5 people you will need: 

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  •     150 g  pancetta (you can just about get away with bacon)
  •     2 garlic cloves
  •     1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •      Half a glass of dry white wine
  •     1 large egg or two small ones
  •     50g freshly grated Romano cheese (hard, salty Italian cheese, often used     for grating, made out of sheep's milk) available at Sainsbury's.
  •     50g freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  •     fresh ground black pepper
  •     1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  •     500 grams spaghetti

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How to make:

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Boil a pan of water and then cook your pasta according to what it says on the box. ( I cook my pasta about 1 to 2 minuets under the recommended time)

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Cut the pancetta into strips about 5mm wide. Crush the garlic.  Put the garlic and olive oil into a  sauté pan and turn on the heat to medium high. 

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Sauté until the garlic becomes coloured and remove. Fry the pancetta until it turns brown at the edges. Add the wine and let it bubble for a minute or two and then turn off the heat.

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Break the egg/eggs into big enough bowl to fit and toss the pasta in. 

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Beat lightly with a fork, then add the two grated cheeses, 9 twists of pepper,  and the chopped parsley. Mix thoroughly. 

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Once cooked add the drained spaghetti to the bowl, and toss rapidly, coating with the egg and cheese mixture.

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Don’t forget to save some of the pasta water to add to the pasta if it looks a little dry.

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Lastly, add the entire contents of the pancetta pan into the bowl, toss thoroughly again, check seasoning and take to the table.

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Return to Recipes

There is rarely a consensus but the traditional pairing suggested is a white, say a Pinot Grigio or Gavi, both from Italy, which work well but for me it needs red wine with a light to medium body and high acidity. It’s an every day meal so lower price and let’s stay traditional in a simple Chianti.

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Try Waitrose Chianti £6.49 - 100% Sangiovese grape.

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Hope you enjoy it.

Jason’s Wine recommendations

Carbonara – This cheesy, salty and savoury dish needs a wine with some zing to cut through it.

Amazing value from Waitrose only £6.49