Pasta Carbonara

Since I’ve been so lax, today’s a double day. I’m supposed to make something for an afternoon potluck, too, so you may even get three.

One of Mr. Pea’s favorite meals is pasta carbonara. I have fashioned my own recipe for it, though it’s heavily based on one by Lidia Bastianich. I love PBS cooking shows–no commercials, fairly subdued compared to the Food Network–and my grandmother got my one of Lidia’s cookbooks several years ago. I’ve made a number of things out of it, and a lot of the recipes serve as great base recipes upon which you can build and modify for your own tastes. I’ve made this carbonara with plain old smoked bacon (center cut–less fatty) but you can also use pancetta, or, for some variation, diced capicola ham (the hot kind). We’ve made it that way several times, and it’s really tasty.

Here’s the recipe.
4-6 slices of bacon, diced
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 can low-sodium chicken broth
2 egg yolks
grated parmesan
anywhere from 1/2 lb-2/3 lb of linguine, fettucine, spaghetti

Warm a big, fairly deep skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until mostly done, about five or so minutes, stirring constantly. Add sliced onions, and stir around in the bacon fat. Cook until softened, another five or so minutes.

Put some water on to boil.

When the onions are starting to soften, add anywhere from 2/3 of the can of broth to the whole thing, until the onions are juuuust nearly covered. Cooking, as you might tell, is to me a very intuitive process, especially after I’ve made a recipe a few times. You’ll get the hang of it. Bring the broth to a simmer, and turn down a bit, allowing it to simmer until reduced by half. This usually takes somewhere around ten minutes.

During that time, cook your pasta. You want it to be al dente right when your broth has reduced. Remove pasta from the water and add to your skillet, the heat under it down to medium-low. I do this without draining it, using various implements and burning myself periodically. Toss it around to coat with the sauce. Add your two egg yolks, and toss, toss, toss. Tongs are good for this. Add lots of freshly cracked pepper, toss, toss, toss. If it’s too thick, add some of your pasta cooking water. It’s starchy goodness will pull it together, so long as you’re careful how much you add. Add cheese to taste (the recipe I originally used called for something like a half-cup, which, while delicious, is not entirely necessary. We add a couple tablespoons to the pan, and then add it as we personally prefer).

Serve hot. It’ll serve, in theory, more than two people, but we like it for lunches and tend to keep it to ourselves.


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