How To Properly Add Eggs To A Carbonara Sauce

Carbonara, which conjures the word carbonaro — coal burner — maybe arose from the soot and ashes of Italian charcoal workers from the rugged Central Apennines. Perhaps an embellished myth, these stories speak of hardworking me who stuffed bowls of spaghetti with eggs, pecorino, and guanciale — air-cured pork jowls or cheek. But others believe the creamy pasta dish originally filled bellies in Rome or evolved from the first time chefs tossed maccheroni with cheese and eggs in late-19th century Neapolitan kitchens (via Gambero Rosso). In other legends, during, and in the crumbling aftermath of World War II, carbonara was born from American soldiers stationed in Italy who brought their daily rations of eggs and bacon to local restaurants in Rome (per La Cucina Italiana). Over time, throughout the regions, and all the way across the Atlantic in the new Italian havens of the eastern United States, bacon morphed into salt-cured pancetta, and pancetta into chunks of guanciale (via Taste).

A bowl of pasta alla carbonara seems like a simple, filling dish where not much could go wrong. It takes only 30 minutes or less to whip up this satisfying, and versatile meal, but the necessary addition of eggs might throw you off track. To achieve this pasta dish's creamy texture, eggs, unsalted butter, and shredded Parmesan cheese are crucial. However, one wrong move, and you might accidentally end up with grainy, scrambled eggs instead of a smooth, silken sauce to coat the long noodles, whether fettuccine, linguine, or bucatini.

Here's how to achieve a perfect, smooth sauce

Rachael Ray has some critical advice for home cooks hoping to serve up a creamy carbonara. She suggests removing the pan from the heat when adding the eggs, which prevents the eggs from becoming grainy and scrambled, according to the official website for Rachael Ray's show. If you try out this simple tip, consider adding bacon, salty, crisp bits of pancetta or guanciale, or even sliced, cooked chicken breasts for a hearty dose of protein.

It may seem daunting to add raw eggs to your hot pasta, but tempering the eggs before you add them could also be a great way to prevent your pasta from turning into an omelet. To temper, simply add the yolks to a bowl and whisk together swiftly as you drizzle in half a cup of the pasta water (per Whisking Mama). Warming up the eggs with this step allows them to reach closer to the temperature of the pasta, which ensures that the eggs won't curdle once they are added. Buon appetito!