Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happiness is...Spaghetti alla Carbonara

     I can't believe I have gone this far into my life without ever having the "Happiness" that is Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  Why have I let this sweet comfort elude me?  It is composed of everything I Love: Pork, Eggs, Cheese, and Pasta, and yet I have always shied away from it for some reason.  I even have a gift certificate sitting on my desk from some friends, for their favorite restaurant, and they wrote right on it that I must get the Carbonara, and I have never used it 2 years later.  I must ask myself, "Why did it take you so long?  What made you hesitate?"  I guess I just couldn't wrap my mind around the concept of tossing pasta in raw egg, but I've seen the error in my thinking.  I'm not tossing in raw egg, I'm making sauce, and wonderful eggy cheese sauce.  I feel as a new convert who eyes had been blind to the light, and I must sing in praise of Carbonara.
     This dish is, to say the least, very soul satisfying.  It's creamy, it's flavorful, it's beautiful, it's filling, and it takes but minutes to make (it can be fully cooked in the time it takes the pasta to boil).  Give it a try, I promise it will leave you Happy.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

  • 1 lb. dry Spaghetti
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • 4 oz. thick sliced Pepper Bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
  • 4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1 c. reserved Pasta Water
  • Lots of freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 c. fresh Parsley, chopped, plus more for serving (I prefer curly parsley over flat leaf, but use what you like)
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

     Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the Spaghetti and cook for 9 to 11 minutes or until your desired doneness (I like my pasta on the soft side). Drain the Spaghetti well, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

     When you drop the Spaghetti into the water to cook, heat the Olive Oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the chopped Peppered Bacon and saute for about 3-5 minutes, until the Bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Turn the heat to low and toss the chopped Garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.

   By now the Spaghetti should be ready.  Add the hot, drained Spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the Eggs and Parmesan Cheese together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen). Thin out the sauce with some of the reserved Pasta Water, until it reaches desired consistency (you will probably not need to use all of the water). Season the Carbonara with lots of freshly ground Black Pepper and taste for salt. Toss in the fresh Parsley at the last minute, so the color is at it's most vibrant.

     Mound the Spaghetti Carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with a little more chopped Parsley and a sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese.  Enjoy!


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