Friday, March 16, 2012

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

Carbonara is one of the simple Italian comfort dishes you can make any night of the week. Traditionally you would use pancetta but let's face it, that stuff can get pretty expensive so if you don’t have that in your pantry, a good piece of bacon can be used also. I use a little cream in my carbonara because I like the silky taste it gives, and I also use freshly ground pepper; which gives it that nice subtle kick to the senses, so that’s non-negotiable.

Serves 4

  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Note: 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.

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm
  2. Reserving ½ cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish. Drain the pasta well then return the pasta back into the hot pot. The residual heat in the pot, will keep the pasta warm enough to thicken the sauce
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and sauté for about 3 minutes or until its crisp and the fat is rendered
  4. Remove from oil and let sit for a few minutes to cool off (reserve half for garnish on top)
  5. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add in the Parmesan cheese, beat well for a minute then add in ½ of the pancetta, then add the cream, fresh ground pepper and salt to taste, stirring well to prevent lumps.
  6. You'll have to move fast at this point. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the bowl and toss quickly for 2 minutes to coat the strands with the mixture.
  7. Keep stirring to mix the cheese and egg evenly and the sauce will be thickened and silky smooth. Add a bit of the pasta water if needed until it reaches your desired consistency.
  8. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt only if needed.
  9. Mound the spaghetti alla carbonara onto a plate; add the reserved pancetta and extra parmesan  cheese
  10. Serve immediately
Add In: you can easily make this dish your own by adding in mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and some red pepper flakes, cooked diced asparagus.

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