Friday, June 21 2024

Around the 1930s in Rome, the future Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli sat down at the restaurant “La cisterna” in Rome and asked for a new dish, inspired by the carbonara that was all the rage in Rome at the time (as well as in today’s Rome) but that was both more noble and lighter.

The chef had the idea of replacing the guanciale with prosciutto crudo di Norcia and the pecorino with parmesan. He also wanted to add a note of sweetness to the dish by using an onion to create the base of the dish.

Thus was born a brilliant and delicious dish that was renamed in later years “papalina” to honor its illustrious patron.

Nowadays, this less popular dish than carbonara is rediscovered and appreciated for its delicate taste but which definitely maintains the archetypal flavor of “cacio e uova” pasta.

Elements NOT present in the original recipe and which are often added are peas and cream. These are variations that completely alter the balance of flavors and create a completely different dish that can no longer be called “papalina”.



If you want to know the history and origins of Carbonara:







  • 1 onion
  • 6 slices of ham
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 14 oz of Fettuccine pasta
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp of black pepper




We begin by preparing the ingredients for the ham and onion sauté.

We finely slice the onion.


We cut the ham into strips.


Meanwhile, we boil the water in which we will cook the pasta.

Now we prepare the egg beat; similar to carbonara.

In a glass bowl, we put one egg yolk for each person plus one whole egg for the pan.

Now with a fork, we stir vigorously.

We add a pinch of salt.

We add a teaspoon of black pepper and the Parmesan cheese.

We stir vigorously and set aside.

In a frying pan, we put the butter and let it melt over medium heat.

We add the onion along with a ladle of water so that the onion stews and does not brown.



Now we add the ham  and in the pan we put the fettuccine to cook.



We return to the egg beaters by adding a ladle of cooking water, which by increasing the temperature will make the mixture velvety.

We drain the fettuccine and put them in the pan with the sautéed onion and ham.

We let it cook 1 minute over low heat, stirring the fettuccine and blending it with the ham and onion.

Now we pour in the beaten egg and and stir mixing everything together.



Plate and if you like, you can add a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and black pepper.







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