Mother's Carbonara

So before the Italian mafia puts a hit on me, I know this is not actually how the actual carbonara is supposed to be – I had that properly one time in Rome and I’m still not over it. Was at a restaurant called Maccheroni, which is just off the Pantheon, and damn that was amazing. Tried to convince Mother to go again but she didn’t want a repeat restaurant. Hmm, maybe I should do a post about food in Rome?! Yes? Yes!


Still dreaming about it, to be honest…

But the point of this post is Mother’s Carbonara. Again, I  know that this is the proper way of doing it, but it has been the way we’ve done it at home – I think at some point it was a weekly occurrence. The bechamel sauce was most of the time store bought, but I don’t seem to be able to find any at my local shops – or not able to see it. I have a particular packet that was always available in Malta but now I just can’t seem to see it at all! Mother would make this quite often and it’s quite the family favourite; it’s a quick recipe (especially with the shop bought sauce!) and perfect for a mid-week dinner. You could also use pre-made carbonara sauce but add all the other extras for that hit – including some extra bacon!

mushrooms & pancetta in progress

Mushrooms & pancetta in progress


Mother's Carbonara
  • 500g Spaghetti
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • Garlic (plenty!)
  • 300g pancetta
  • 250g mushrooms
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, more to serve
  • Salt and pepper
For the Béchamel sauce
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water according to packet instructions. Drain well.
  2. Heat a large frypan over high heat and add oil, onion, garlic, pancetta and mushrooms. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until pancetta is crisp and mushroom is tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth.
  4. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden color, about 5 minutes.
  5. Heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking until very smooth. Cook 10 minutes after bringing to boil, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and pour in with the pancetta mixture.
  6. Bring to the boil and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  7. Add the pasta and cheese to pan. Stir through sauce until heated through.
  8. Season with salt and a good pepper grinding.