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Carbonara with or without milk/cream?

A few times a year I make pasta carbonara, usually with spaghetti or linguine. My go to recipe uses fried bacon or pancetta pieces, sautéed onion and garlic, whisked whole eggs, a splash or three of white wine, fresh ground pepper and grated cheese.

I have seen more than a few recipes that also call for the addition of some milk or cream. Do any of you add it?
How does it change the taste or texture of your final dish?

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  1. No milk. No cream. Add these, and you've got a dish other than Carbonara.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      The creaminess should come from the eggs. If it's not creamy enough, you don't have enough eggs, are overcooking them, or both.

        1. re: pikawicca

          The recipe I've been making for years (originally from Time-Life's Foods of the World book on Italy) calls for cream. Basic recipe is to cook the pasta, fry up the bacon, add cream and red pepper flakes and keep hot. Beat up the eggs (add some egg yolks) and add parmesan cheese. Drain pasta into a warmed serving dish, throw in some softened butter and toss, add the bacon/ cream mixture, toss to coat, and then add the egg mixture. Toss. Serve with more parmesan and freshly ground pepper. Delish!

        2. The versions with cream or milk are more forgiving. Without it you have to get the time and temperature right, else you end up with uncooked or scrambled eggs and cheese. Cream also extends the 'shelf life'.

          1. It's delicious either way. I think cream has become more common because of peoples' fear of raw eggs (which I do not share). If I have cream I'm not using up fast enough, or am running low on eggs, I stretch the eggs with cream when making carbonara. It does not bother me that cream isn't "kosher", as it were.

            1. I normally make the more traditional version with pancetta and no cream/dairy, but when I am in the mood for a different twist, I use the Frugal Gourmet's version which includes heavy cream or half and half and a splash of white wine vinegar . I also pop in a handfull of blanched fresh peas when I add the whisked eggs for this recipe.

              It's not true to the original, but it is very very tasty none the less.

              The daily add a silky quality that compliments the eggs, but it does aim the direction of the final dish into "alfredo" territory which many may find as blasphemous. LOL.

              1. No milk, no cream, no wine.

                I make mine with linguine, eggs, crispy bacon, a pinch of nutmeg, and lots of black pepper.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Njchicaa

                  What IS it about nutmeg that even a pinch can make a creamy soup or a creamy-tasting pasta w/ cheese dish just POP? I always use it when I make turkey tetrazzini. Now! I will try it in my whisked eggs for carbonara, too.