Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pasta alla Carbonara

On those nights when we need dinner in a flash, and it seems that we have no food in the house, I can always turn to this simple, rich, delicious stand by (as I typically always have these ingredients on hand, whether in the pantry, fridge, or freezer). It cooks up in a matter of minutes, and, while delicious on its own, it can be made a million different ways. Throw in some mushrooms, or chicken, or shrimp... whatever you have on hand, and dinner is on the table in no time.

6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 pound of pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, vermicelli, and bucatini are all good choices, but really any pasta will work)
8 eggs
Heavy cream (or half 'n half, or whole milk...whatever you have on hand)
1 cup grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
Dash of chipotle powder
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Chopped fresh Parsley (optional)

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over medium heat.

Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it starts to color and become crisp. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Drop the pasta into the salted boiling water and cook it 1 minute less than whatever it says on the package. Bite the pasta to check the consistency.

While the pasta is cooking, crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan, a splash of cream, the garlic, nutmeg, chipotle powder, and season with salt (keeping in mind that the cheese and bacon are both salty). Whisk vigorously until it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Season generously with black pepper (like a lot... as black pepper is a key flavor in classic carbonara) .

When the pasta is just about done, return the pan with the bacon to medium heat. Strain the pasta (reserving a cup of the coking water). Toss or stir the pasta into the bacon to coat the pasta with the remaining fat in the skillet. Vigorously stir the egg mixture into the pasta. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the egg mixture thickens and looks like a cream sauce, adding some of the cooking liquid if it becomes too thick. Toss in a handful of chopped parsley, and serve with a little extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.



pksarna said...

How many would this feed as a main dish? Just wondering because of the 8 eggs and all. It does look luscious though and a good pairing with a Cabernet sauv.

Jacob Blankenship said...

It could easily feed six people (eight with a salad) or four generous portions. And you can leave out the cream/milk all together (I just find that it makes it a little more fool proof)and just use the pasta cooking liquid and the eggs. It also works with a pasteurized egg product like egg beaters... you just have to be careful because if cooked even a little too long those products tend to break and exude a lot of excess liquid. But I think it is the perfect thing to whip up for last minute guests.

pksarna said...

Egg beaters, really? What a great tip to lighten it up a bit.

Don't you just love fabulous meals for the last minute guest...or for the nights when I worked too long, and just want to veg out watching TV for an hour with a bowl of hot pasta in my lap? Comforting, filling, easy, and you can extend the recipe with whatever you have on hand from breadcrumb to chicken to mushroom.

Thanks for sharing.

PS: I may have accidentally volunteered to make a hundred cupcakes...and certainly at least 50. So, yeah, we gotta talk.