Carbonara, it’s one of Italy’s most famous and delicious dishes. Carbonara features guanciale (pork jowl) or pancetta, spaghetti, grated Pecorino (an italian cheese) and ground black pepper. Unfortunately, your average grocery store doesn’t always feature these products or have them at decent prices when they do.
That’s where I come in. After many testing and trials I have finally figured out a decent cheap and easy carbonara.
Disclaimer: This is Not True Carbonara
I do need to give you a quick disclaimer though, this is not a true carbonara. So if you are a trained chef or looking for an authentic recipe this is not it.
The recipe below is as close to carbonara as I can get without breaking the budget or confusing you with ingredients. Most of these ingredients you will probably already have in your home.
Bacon is a good fatty cut of pork and since it’s already been smoked and cured it’s as close to guanciale or pancetta as you can get without a huge amount of the price. Depending on the cut you get can improve the recipe as well.
I’ve used everything from cheap thin sliced bacon you get on sale to the good butcher quality smoked bacon. The better quality bacon is going to taste better in your carbonara but if you are on a budget, the cheap stuff works just fine too.
Cheap and Easy Carbonara Wannabe
Below is the recipe for my cheap and easy carbonara. Like I stated before this is not traditional carbonara but it will absolutely feed your family. As with any pasta, be generous with the salt in your pasta water. It makes it all better.
- 1 16 oz box Spaghetti
- Reserved ¾ cup pasta water
- 6 strips of bacon diced
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Oregano
- ¼ tsp Red pepper flakes
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan like this one and add bacon to start cooking. Heat well salted water in a spaghetti pot and start cooking your spaghetti of choice.
- In a medium bowl crack 4 eggs and whisk quickly till bubbly, about 5 minutes. You can do this in a bowl with your stand mixer on a medium to high speed, about 2 minutes. Fold in 1 cup of parmesan cheese and put to the side.
- When the bacon is mostly cooked add red pepper flakes, garlic, and oregano and cook till the garlic is fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add the ¾ cup of pasta water carefully and slowly and cook down till about half. Turn heat down to medium low.
- Drain the pasta once it’s cooked to your liking. Add the hot pasta to the frying pan and remove from the heat to mix with the oil and bacon.
- Slowly pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and mix with tongs or a pasta ladle. Mix quickly to make it creamy. The heat from the pan, the bacon, and the pasta will cook the egg enough for it to be the creamy sauce we all love in carbonara.
- Serve with parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to taste.
It may not be traditional carbonara but it’s still a delicious meal that is cheap and easy to make. You can serve it on the side with a flavorful chicken recipe, or you can eat it as a meal on it’s own.
While professional chefs will look at this and most likely be insulted by the use of bacon instead of pork jowl or pancetta this isn’t for them. They can afford to feed their family those cuts of meat. For us everyday folks that are working with a tight budget, bacon works just fine.
Have you used bacon as a sub in your carbonara? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your favorite dinner recipe boards.