Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara


Hope everyone's new year is off to a good start! If good is busy, then mine has been good, since I have a few dishes and photos waiting to be posted. Starting off with one of my all-time favorite dishes from Italy, if not the whole world, is spaghetti carbonara. This is one dish I've made so many times and tried so many variations, from Giada's to Lidia's, that I've come up with my own recipe.

4 oz. prosciutto or pancetta or just regular old bacon if neither is available, cut into strips.
8 oz. spaghetti (or any pasta, but I like the classic shape)
2-3 whole eggs (sometimes I just use egg yolks but then you have leftover egg whites, arg!)
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced fine
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Chicken stock (optional)
1 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper
Olive Oil

Carbonara is such a simple recipe - what makes it better is the order you prepare the ingredients. One thing I usually stay away from is adding cream, it's not necessary nor the traditional way you would find it in a Italy. The creaminess will come from the eggs and the cheese, who needs cream?

Set a large pot filled with enough water for the pasta to boil.

In a large non-stick pan, heat about two teaspoons of olive oil (if you're using fatty pancetta or bacon, you don't even need oil). Add your sliced/diced meat and cook on medium-high until it's nice and brown.

Next add the garlic and onion and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent and the garlic is slightly browned. To add even more flavor, you can add about half a cup of chicken stock, and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove the browned bits. Turn heat to low and reduce the stock by half. You want it to look like a light sauce, not a lot of liquid.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to box directions.

In a little bowl, whisk the eggs, add the grated parmesan cheese and black pepper to your taste preference.

Once pasta is cooked, drain (reserving half a cup of pasta water to thin out sauce if it's too thick). Add pasta to frying pan and turn off heat. Finally, pour in egg/cheese mixture and quickly stir into pasta. This is supposed to cook the eggs. If you are worried about salmonella, you could use pasteurized eggs or those eggs in a container, but I like my eggs in their natural form and couldn't live without a runny egg yolk, so I take the risk, and haven't gotten sick yet! If you feel the sauce is too sticky, add a little pasta water, but it usually doesn't need any.

Plate, and sprinkle some more parmesan cheese and black pepper on top, pour yourself a glass of red wine and enjoy!

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