Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

I have a love/hate relationship with this dish.

Love it because its a super tasty meal that requires very few ingredients, most of which I always have around (eggs, bacon, oarmesan cheese, spaghetti).

Hate it because it is very challenging to cook the eggs just right so that you are not eating raw eggs with your pasta, but you're also not having scrambled eggs either. I have, on separate occasions, done both.

Joe lives in constant fear that I am trying to kill him with undercooked meat and food, so he was hesitant to try this dish again, since my last attempt was a little too eggy.

I use a recipe out of the Williams Sanoma, Essentials of Italian cookbook. Honestly, if you read through the recipe very carefully and follow everything they say to do step by step (see bulleted steps below), you shouldn't have any problems. I have a habit of not doing that, which is why I've run into problems before.

The Williams Sanoma recipe calls for pancetta, which I usually use, but this time all I had was bacon. Also, they call for mix of romano and parmesan cheeses and I just used parmesan. I always have good parmesan on hand so don't really see the need to do a mix. I've served it before with shrimp or chicken as well.


6 oz. bacon or pancetta (chopped)
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk (room temp)
parsley for garnish, roughly chopped
olive oil

serves 4 - 6

-Start with a large pan and add the olive oil and bacon and heat up slowly until the bacon is browned. Take off the heat and cover to keep warm.

- Get the egg and cheese mixture ready by whisking the eggs in a bowl and then adding the cheese and a few pinches of black pepper.

- Start the spaghetti

This is where the WS book says that timing is crucial, they are not lying!

While your spaghetti is cooking, get ready by placing your serving bowl in the sink and set your colander inside of it. Also put a smaller bowl next to it to reserve some pasta water.

- Once the spaghetti is done, do all of the following at lightning speed:
  • Pour the spaghetti into the colander so all the pasta water ends up in your serving bowl and heats the bowl
  • Shake the colander a few times and dump the pasta in the pan with the bacon and oil.
  • Toss the pasta and bacon together, coating all the pasta with the oil.
  • Pour the pasta water out of the serving bowl, reserving about 2 cups into the smaller bowl.
  • Transfer the pasta and bacon into the serving bowl and pour in the egg mixture slowly, mixing in with the pasta constantly. This is where you want the eggs to cook but not scramble, so the faster and more evenly you turn the pasta the better.
  • Thicken the sauce a bit with the reserved cooking water, depending on the consistency
- Garnish with parsley and you're ready to serve!