Ice storm. Minus 40. Freezing rain. Flooding, no lava rock available, icy sidewalks with slippery puddles. Damp cold fog. What’s a girl to do?
I say cook! Cook up some yummy good stuff that makes the insides feel warm and fuzzy. This recipe tops the charts. Your neighbors will be making up stories of broken pipes and no heat just to get an invite over. I’ve made this more than a couple of times over the last couple of weeks.
I remember being a young girl weekend camping with the family. We came from a “fishing” family which meant that we camped by the ‘fish in season’ calendar. One thing I recall is those damp weekends in the spring and fall, huddled under a tarp, grouped around a picnic table digging into a huge mound of carbonara pasta. A little bit of heaven, it’s pure and simple yumminess, easy to make as long as you have a couple of critical hints. Enter moi.
Here are the things you need to know. It seems like a basic dish, but trust me if any of your foodie-turn up your nose types sample this they will be in awe. I guarantee it. This recipe is the bomb. The yum bomb. I swear, this is one of those plates of pasta you will swear includes some straight from the boat Italian magic you will never be able to harness. There must be some magical luscious ingredient. Not the case. Follow the simple 1-2-3 and you will be the producer of an exquisite plate of goodness that everyone will be asking you to make again.
Apres-ski. During those Jan awards? Early lunch? Brunch? Late night after party snack? Weekday dinner? I’ve gone snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, have surprise guests, need to add something substantial to a brunch, after a late night hockey game, skating, skiing, tobogganing, etc, etc, etc. What does this say? Hearty, delicious, quick and YUMMY! AWESOME!!! Still one of my all time favorite childhood recipes.
OK, enough. Can you tell I love it? Let’s get to it.
You can also use: Pancetta or Guanciale or Speck or Proscittuo or sausage or a combo of any of these. All of these are awesome! Here I used some prosciutto and bacon.
Roma Style Bacon and Egg Pasta Carbonara, serves 4
700 gr good quality spaghetti
3 cloves garlic
10 slices prosciutto, diced
10 rashers bacon, diced
4 eggs, cracked and beaten
1/2 cup grated good quality parmesan cheese
Yes that’s it! The makings of pure yummy loveliness. I swear. Who would have thought that simple bacon and eggs would be heaven as pasta. Here it is.
What does this mean? The key to this pasta is the sauce. And since the sauce is pretty simple and straightforward you need to cook it carefully. Technique is everything. Saute your bacon (or sausage or pancetta pieces) until they are getting a little cooked/crisped up. Add garlic at this point. Crush the garlic and place in the middle of the pan. The garlic needs to cook but NOT brown. If it gets brown remove and add back in later. Browned garlic will turn bitter.
I then added some additional pieces of prosciutto. I just wanted to warm them up and looked for them to turn a little light. I didn’t want them to cook too much as they become very salty when cooked. Turn sauce off. That’s it!! I swear. If you think the sauce is a little light at this point you can add some fresh olive oil. Fresh olive oil is super healthy and tasty. You need enough sauce to ‘lightly’ coat the pasta. Don’t fear. What I’ve outlined above is more than enough for that amount of pasta. Once your done, put aside. Now boil and salt the water, and get ready to assemble.
Creating your masterpiece:
Beat your eggs. Set aside. Boil your spaghetti to just the right consistency. AL DENTE. Got it? This is crucial. Watch your starch and make sure that you remove once approaching al dente. Pasta will continue to cook once removed from heat, so take this into consideration.
NOW THIS IS CRITICAL. PAY ATTENTION. Remove about 2 cups of pasta water from your boiling pasta BEFORE you drain. Yes!!! This starchy water is the key to creating a creamy delicious pasta sauce. TRUST ME! I have skipped this step numerous times and have reaped a gloopy, dry pasta mess. Learn from my mistakes. This is a necessary step. This is your super start insider’s secret step. Pure genius and works every time.
Now you’re ready to assemble your pasta. Here are your critical insider tips. Sooooo easy yet CRUCIAL!!!
Drain pasta. Remove from heat. Make sure you have your pasta water, eggs and cooked bacon on stand by. Pour drained pasta back into pot over low heat. Add beaten eggs. Stir. There will be a lot of egg mixture at the beginning (see photo 1). Start to mix over low heat. Add bacon/and/or other mixture to pasta (photo 2). Stir mixture over low heat until egg begins to cook/clump. Add about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Stir it up and add more pasta water if necessary. You are looking for a creamy consistency, so you may have to add water as egg is cooking up. This process shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes tops. Once egg is cooked but there is still a creamy texture to pasta, add grated parmesan cheese and some more pasta water if necessary. Serve immediately.
The biggest downfall of this pasta is the risk f it drying out. Don’t be afraid of adding the pasta water along the process, but make sure it is absorbed before you add any additional. You want to maintain a creamy consistency before you serve but the past should not be wet. You can finish with some fresh olive oil, cracked black pepper and parm shavings. Enjoy!!!