I say authentic because some have taken liberties with this very humble but extremely satisfying dish. Adding crème, butter, garlic or anything else, is really not necessary. Italians tend to be purists regarding certain dishes, and this is one of them!
8 ounces diced guanciale or pancetta
¼ cup olive oil
1 lb. Spaghetti or ziti pasta
½ tsp black pepper
Pinch of salt
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 cup reserved pasta water
Place a large pot of well salted (a good heaping tablespoon) water to boil. Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir right away so it doesn’t stick. Meanwhile place a large sauté pan on medium heat and brown the pancetta in the olive oil till crispy and the fat is rendered.
In a large bowl beat the eggs adding the pepper salt and most of the grated cheese, keeping some to sprinkle on top. When pasta is cooked “al dente” scoop out 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta and add it right into the sauté pan with the pancetta.
Turn up the heat a bit, add the egg mixture, quickly stir it all together and turn off the heat and keep stirring. What you want is the egg mixture to get just enough heat to thicken and coat the pasta without the eggs starting to form curds. At this point you can add a bit of the pasta water as needed.
The starches in the water will help thicken the sauce. Now you can plate the pasta and add a bit more cheese and cracked pepper on top. Note: You can substitute bacon in a pinch but not the maple flavored stuff and preferably slab or thick cut.