Filipino pastas get a lot of hate for not being the “real” thing. Pinoy spaghetti, for example, is never taken as seriously as spaghetti bolognese. The same goes for Filipino carbonara, which purists will compare to Italian carbonara. “Carbonara uses eggs, not cream!” “There’s no bacon in true carbonara,” they cry.
And yeah, the purists are right: Filipino carbonara is not Italian carbonara. And who cares? Like Pinoy spaghetti, it deserves a category of its own. Instead of eggs and Italian guanciale, this carbonara has a garlicky cream-based sauce flecked with mushrooms and bacon. Use the best spaghetti you can get, and you’ll have yourself a carbonara that’s better than the “real” thing.
- 2 whole heads of garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500g uncooked good-quality spaghetti
- 200g unflavored, cured, and smoked bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 3 cups fresh white and brown button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose cream
- ½ cup reserved pasta water
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 heads roasted garlic
- grated Parmesan cheese, preferably fresh
- freshly ground black pepper, optional
Roast garlic: Preheat oven to 450°F. Take whole heads of garlic and slice off about ¼-inch off the top. Place garlic heads on top of a large piece of foil, cut side up. Pour olive oil over the garlic, letting it seep into the cloves. Close the foil tightly and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Once cooked, let cool before removing from foil.
Cook pasta: Cook spaghetti in salted boiling water until al dente, about 2 minutes less than usual instructions. Drain and reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Set aside.
Cook bacon: Add bacon in a single layer to a large skillet with the heat turned off. Set heat to medium, then slowly cook the bacon undisturbed until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the bacon fat in the pan.
Cook mushrooms: Turn heat to high. Add mushrooms to the pan in a single layer. Cook in bacon fat until well browned, then remove and set aside.
Make sauce: Add all-purpose cream, pasta water, and butter to the pan. Squeeze out roasted garlic cloves into the mixture. Stir until simmering and the roasted garlic has dissolved into the sauce. Add cooked pasta, bacon, and mushrooms. Stir until the sauce is glossy and has fully coated the noodles.
Serve: Transfer carbonara to a dish. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper, if using. Serve while hot.