My mom’s carbonara recipe is tossed with pancetta, beaten egg and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to create a rich, hearty and peppery flavor. This six ingredient carbonara is a 30 minute recipe you’ll want to file under your favorite weeknight recipes!
My most vivid memory of this hearty dish is while vacationing at the New Jersey Shore as a kid. My mom, grandma and great aunt busily working together in the small kitchen of our vacation home after a long, lazy day spent at the beach. Ice popping in their happy hour gin & tonics. The smokey smell of pancetta popping in butter on the stove. The hum of the window fans spinning to combat the July temps and the heat coming from the kitchen. Helping to grate the Parmigiano Reggiano until my little hand felt sore (enough to make a double batch). A belly full of warm pasta following a full day of swimming in the ocean.
What’s so special about Parmigiano Reggiano?
- Parmigiano Reggiano is made in the areas in and around the province of Parma by nearly 400 cheese makers.
- The milk is used straight from the cows – fresh and without additives.
- Due to the long aging process, Parmigiano Reggiano is naturally lactose-free.
- Parmigiano Reggiano is made by hand and aged for up to 24 months or more. During this time the cheese develops its flavor and texture.
How To Recognize Parmigiano Reggiano At the Store
- Parmigiano Reggiano has a hard golden rind. Look for the pin-dots on the rind to know you’re buying the real deal. Check out the photo above to see what I mean!
- If the cheese is only labeled as “Parmesan” it’s not Parmigiano Reggiano, but an imitation. Parmesan is fine, but there’s no replicating the robust flavor of real Parmigiano Reggiano.
- For the richest flavor, freshly grate the cheese from the wedge as you need it for cooking.
Carbonara Recipe Adjustment Ideas
Let me be clear. This carbonara recipe requires no tweaking! But, if you find yourself without some of the ingredients or wanting to use up others in your fridge, here are some other ways we enjoy carbonara:
- Meatless Monday version. I’ll admit, you’ll lose the smokiness and richness from the bacon and smoked ham. We’ve been eating predominately plant-based meals these days so I didn’t have bacon and smoke ham on hand the other night. So in place of the meat, I added an extra egg and more Parmigiano Regianno and it was delicious (as pictured above).
- Go green. We often toss a handful of frozen peas at the end of the recipe (when you toss the pasta with the meat, egg, mushrooms and Parmigiano Regianno).
- Herbs the word. Top your finished bowl of pasta with fresh and chopped basil or flat-leaf parsley or mix in a couple handfuls of peppery arugula.
Add this quick and easy carbonara recipe to your weeknight meals file – you won’t be disappointed!
Parmigiano Reggiano Carbonara
- 1/2 cup smoked ham, chopped
- 1/2 cup lean bacon, chopped *We often use pancetta
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 pound dry pasta
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Add dry pasta to a large pot of salted, boiling water. Cook noodles for about 8-10 minutes or until al dente. Note: Before you drain the noodles, reserve about a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
- While pasta cooks, sauté the ham and bacon/pancetta with the butter and extra virgin olive oil until lightly brown.
- Add mushrooms to the pan and cook for about two minutes.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the eggs with the Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Once pasta is cooked al dente, add pasta to the pan with the mushrooms, ham and bacon. Top with the egg and Parmigiano Reggiano mixture. Toss pasta gingerly to evenly coat. Add a small amount of the pasta water, if needed, to help coat the noodles.
- Plate the pasta and top with more grated Parmigiano Reggiano and freshly cracked black pepper, as desired. Eat and enjoy immediately!