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Carbonara raw eggs -- do they really cook?

I'm making a carbonara for a group that includes a baby and someone with a compromised immune system. Do the eggs really cook just by being mixed in with the pasta? I mean, to 160 or whatever you need to kill off bacteria?

I'm considering making it more of a cream and cheese sauce and leaving out the eggs, if necessary. It has some other ingredients that might make up for that wonderful carbonara-ness, hopefully.

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  1. As someone who has had a compromised immune system, not in a million years would I have made carbonara during that time. Just too much risk. I am not generally skittish about food, but when you have one lone white blood cell running around trying to keep you healthy it is best not to make that poor cell work any harder.

    4 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      Thank you so much for your speedy reply. I'm happy to leave the eggs out, which is what I'll do.

      1. re: Clarissa

        Clarissa,

        I would err on the side of caution....

        Carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes and I always made it with raw eggs, Pancetta, onions, fresh flat leaf parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano the very same way for decades without any problems.

        About three years ago I made the dish as I always did....but four hours later I became violently ill and experienced the worst three consecutive days I could ever remember. I do realize any of the ingreidents could have set off my discomfort, but I have to believe it was the eggs.

        Believe me when I tell you I have no food phobias and I always believed I had a iron cast stomach and not afraid to eat most anything.....regardless, I have not made dish or ordered it in any of my favorite Italian restaurants since.

        1. re: fourunder

          "About three years ago I made the dish as I always did....but four hours later I became violently ill and experienced the worst three consecutive days I could ever remember. I do realize any of the ingreidents could have set off my discomfort, but I have to believe it was the eggs."

          Well, bear in mind that depending on the specific little beastie that got you, it's quite possible that you ate the offending food up to three DAYS before you got sick (which is part of the reason it's so hard to pinpoint the source of food poisoning sometimes). I wouldn't make the assumption that it was the egg.

          That said, I'd consider the egg high on the list of potential culprits, and I'd echo the other sentiments that it probably isn't the wisest choice for those who are immunocompromised. Much as I'm an advocate of raw eggs in many, many dishes, there are better choices out there if your immune system isn't up to snuff.

          1. re: Dmnkly

            Yeah, four hours is generally too soon...

    2. I wouldn't feed carbonara to a baby and someone with a compromised immune system. Too risky, in my opinion. I only use yolks in my carbonara and they heat up instantaneously. With whole eggs it would be much different, I'd imagine. Hopefully other hounds can weig in on this.

      1 Reply
      1. re: TatyanaG

        Yes, you should use only the yolk. And they do cook. Using some of the scalding pasta cooking water to thin the emulsified sauce (once it's emulsified) also helps.

      2. you can probably coddle or cook the egg partially -- wont be exactly the same dish, but it could work

        but please dont risk your health on my supposition

        1. Why not use pasturized eggs?Not such an unreasonable trip to the store,I think.

          5 Replies
          1. re: lcool

            Pasteurized eggs are not universally available. I used to buy pasteurized liquid whole eggs in cartons when I lived in Nashville, but have not been able to find them in the Los Angeles area. I have been using NuLaid's Reddi-Egg as a component in my morning scramble; it's not bad at all, and I've also been using it in recipes, so I would think it'd work in carbonara. You would want it to be room temperature, of course.

            1. re: Will Owen

              Sad news indeed.I had no idea about difficulty obtaining pasturized eggs.I
              just take for granted,purchase on the east coast,Montana,Italy(Veneto),
              Western Canada & Alaska means they can be found on the shelf everywhere.
              Will,thank you,I will now think to check before traveling to a new local.
              Instead of just "assuming"to find them on the shelf.

              1. re: lcool

                At the risk of outraging the Ultra-Organics in the crowd, I am longing for the day when they start irradiating those things. They'd get heated up a bit, but not enough to cook'em, and they can do it in the shell. And anyone thinking to suggest I just go ahead and move to Chernobyl can, ummmm, just shut up.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  The sell pasteurized in-shell eggs they go through a series of water baths set at different temperatures so that they kill the bacteria but don't cook the egg. I don't think irradiation would work, that uses UV light (like radiation from the sun not like uranium) so it would clean the outside of the shell but not reach inside. In the end on 1 in 10, 000 eggs are actually contaminated internally with salmonella---they are incredibly sterile on the inside, I would recommend washing the outside though----they were up a hens backside after all. So 1 in 10000 chance---even if I ate a raw egg every morning I'd have 27 years until I hit a bad one. This is due to a stain of bacteria that gets passed straight from the hen to the inside of the egg before the shell ever develops. Again you still need to avoid eggs with cracks, chips, etc.

                  1. re: Sally599

                    No, the kind of irradiation I'm talking about involves low-level gamma rays - what the USDA just approved for spinach.

          2. At a restaurant in Rome I ate pasta carbonara that was gently cooked through. Tiny clumps clung to the pasta instead of the creamy result I expected. My Italian friend explained that it wasn't traditional, but that they served it that way in the interest of the public health.