Pasta alla Carbonara

So I thought it was funny (not funny like haha) that the second news story on The Today Show this morning  – second, of course, to the opening piece on the referee debacle from Monday’s Packer / Seahawk game – was that we are about to be faced with a global bacon shortage.  Brace yourself.  This summer’s drought is going to have an impact.  So bacon lovers, carbonara is a great way to get your fill.

This is one of my go-to recipes and I always, ALWAYS, have all of the ingredients on hand.  There was a period last spring where I probably made carbonara every ten days or so.  The punks call it ‘eggs and bacon pasta.’  Everyone here loves it, and we fight over the leftovers.  It’s rich, easy and filling.  Although it’s rather rustic, I would absolutely serve it to company.  But don’t even go here if you’re on a diet, because I guarantee you won’t be able to stop eating it, and I don’t want anyone’s carbonara-induced muffin top on my conscience.  This dish is an exercise in self control.  Enjoy!  : )

PASTA ALLA CARBONARA
SERVES: 4 to 6
SOURCE:  foodnetwork.com; Recipe by Tyler Florence

1 lb. dried pasta (I used linguine; Sendik’s Pasta and Creamette Pasta are on sale)
2 T. Sendik’s olive oil
4 oz. pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips (I used regular bacon; Sendik’s Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon is on sale)
4 garlic cloves, minced (I used one ginormous shallot instead)
2 large eggs (I used four)
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (Sendik’s Imported Grated Parmesan is on sale)
1 handful fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the pasta 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 pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (‘al dente’).  Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 – 1 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish (*).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame.  Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered.  Toss the garlic into the bacon fat and saute for less than one minute.

Add the hot, drained pasta to the pan and toss for two minutes to coat the pasta in the bacon fat.  Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a large measuring cup or 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 doesn’t happen).  Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches the desired consistency.  Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt.  Mound the pasta carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.  Pass more cheese around the table.

(*)NOTE:  Don’t skip this step.  The first five times I made this I forgot to save the pasta water (clearly I don’t catch on that easily) and I regretted it all five times; I think the sauce needs to be thinned at the end – probably because I always add double the eggs.  My new method:  I place my colandar in the sink, then I set a Pyrex measuring cup in the colandar as a reminder myself save out some cooking liquid.  Perfect for a forgetful cook. : )

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous, News | September 25th, 2012