Spaghetti Carbonara

(I noticed that this recipe is 4 years old and needs to be taken out for a dusting. We had some tonight and so I am updating the pics and the recipe just a little.) (I also added a wonderful discovery at the end, unrelated to this dish.)

If you have never heard of this, you would not believe it. Spaghetti with bacon and eggs. Ewww! I pictured a plate of spaghetti with a fried egg on top and maybe some boingy bacon in it.

Then one day I was having dinner out with hubby and friends at a nice Italian place. He ordered Fettuccine Carbonera. hmm, looked good. Creamy with bits of pancetta. He graciously let me have a bite, then two, then…he started body blocking me with his arm and shoulder. I turned to bribery and blatant flirting. Turns out this Roman dish is quite wonderful and so easy to make, it’s just silly. Here are the list of main characters:

Bacon, my pancetta substitute

You need some pasta, like spaghetti or fettuccine.

You need some eggs, lets say 2, cracked into a bowl and beat until mixed.

You need about 4-6 slices of good bacon. I use thick sliced. Or Pancetta if you can get it. It’ s the Italian equivalent to our bacon.

2 cloves of garlic, whole.

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, or just buy a bend of the 2, like at Trader Joes. Sometimes I use the block of cheese and grate myself. Just not this time.

This dish does not take long to make.

You do not need cream. Some versions use cream, but that makes it a different dish.Good maybe, but different.

Here is what you do:

Boil the water for the pasta. Add salt when it is boiling.

Put a little olive oil in a skillet, maybe brushing it around with a basting brush, and heat on medium heat.

Dice the bacon or pancetta and put into the pan with the oil.

Put the garlic cloves in too.

When the bacon is just crisp, not overdone, take a slotted spoon and lift it out onto a paper towel lined plate. Take out the garlic too and set aside or discard. Leave the bacon fat in the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, I hope you started boiling your pasta. (I actually made 2 pots of pasta, one regular and one corn pasta which is gluten free. Hubby prefers it.)  Read the directions on the package and don’t  over cook. Probably not more that 8 minutes or so. You don’t want mushy noodles for this. One of the things Roman dishes are noted for is their almost crunch pasta. I’m  not saying to make it like that, but time it and taste it. You want it just done, not over. Save some of the pasta water in a mug before you drain it.

Mix half the cheese in with the eggs. Stir it up good. You are about to undertake the only  tricky part…

 

And that is mixing the raw eggs with the hot pasta. You do NOT want to cook the eggs and end up with scrambled eggs in your pasta. That’s what I got when I ordered this dish in Venice. I could not believe it!  I would have thought in Italy of all places you would get good Carbonara. But it is a Roman dish, not a, um, Vesuvian?

IMG_3496 (800x598)

First, I put the drained pasta in the skillet that I cooked the bacon in and mix it around. The pasta picks up the bacon fat. This gives it a silky texture. If the pan is cool,  you can work right from there. If it is still hot, pour the pasta into a mixing bowl at this point. (Remember, we don’t want the eggs to set and became scrambled.

Add the cheesy egg mixture to it and stir it up quick!  Toss-toss-toss.Add the rest of the cheese and the bacon. If it looks too dry add some of the pasta water to it. You want it a creamy sauce. Mix it all up. Taste. Mmmm. Need a little salt? Probably not. Both the bacon and the cheese are pretty salty already.

What you will not see in this old picture is peas. I thawed out some frozen peas this time and added them in at the end, both for color and because it’s a veg. Now see a new picture with our new pasta bowls:

IMG_3499 (800x598)

That’s it! Once you get the hang of it you will start making it regular like. Impress your friends. Add a Cesar salad and bread sticks. A side of Parmesan Asparagus maybe? Enjoy!

I was at a Pampered Chef meeting (fun stuff, really.) and the guy from Chicago (used to be a policeman, got injured and was strong armed by sister to sell Pampered Chef. Now he loves it and does great!) showed us how he uses the apple wedger to cut his onions for fajitas!

Wow, just never occurred to me to use it for anything other than apples. I am so an ‘in-the-box’ thinking girl.

So, trying to break out of my box, I thought of what else you could cut with the apple wedger. I was making beef stew that night. I got out the little red potatoes and…

Voila!

Voila!

So now we know they work for apples, onions and little red potatoes. Anything else you can think of?

Love L

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. JJJo
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 13:54:55

    You, my darling, are a culinary genius. Pasta forever!!!!!!

    Reply

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