Now and then

11 Sep

We would never dream of monkeying with our recipe for spaghetti carbonara. How chopped bacon and onion have their slippery way with noodles, the creamy egg yolk and parmesan coating every strand, the gorgeous grassy bites of fresh parsley. Perfection. True, we’ve slipped in a dash of red pepper flakes and a weensy bite of garlic, but they are truly unnecessary. We astonished our younger self making this for a family dinner after clipping ripping it from Seventeen Magazine (circa 1980-something-embarrassing, see below). So simple. So perfect.

NYC carbonara

NYC carbonara 2

After hearing us moan on and on about this hoarded cherished recipe, our betrothed took his first crack at this recently:

doug's carbonara

And wouldn’t you know it. It turned out perfectly. Sigh. Is there anything that man can’t do?

Spaghetti Carbonara

Recipe adapted from Seventeen Magazine
UPDATE: We like one egg and 1/4 pound or 113ish grams 4 oz) of pasta per person, so just multiply that for a group. If you’re boiling a pound/454 grams/16 oz, that’s for four so use four eggs. We also now beat the eggs and mix in the cheese, minced parsley, black pepper (a splash of heavy cream if we have it). Makes stirring into hot noodles coated with bacon-ey goodness that much easier

4 quarts water

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb bacon

1/2 medium onion, chopped

16 oz thin spaghetti (we served three people using 3/4 of a box)

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup chicken broth

3 eggs

1/2 cup chopped parsley

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bring water to boil. In the meantime, chop bacon into 1 inch pieces, chop onion, parsley. Brown bacon and remove, draining all but 2 tbsp fat. Add onion to pan and saute until soft. Add bacon again. When spaghetti is cooked, drain but reserve some starchy water. Pour chicken broth into pan and scrape up browned bits. Add spaghetti and toss in butter, stirring until butter melts.

Remove skillet from heat. Add three raw eggs and stir quickly to blend. The heat from the noodles will cook them nicely; leaving the skillet on the stove would scramble them. The noodles should be loose enough to stir easily. If they are too tight, add reserved water to loosen.

Mix in parsley, and sprinkle with Parmesan. Toss well until cheese is evenly distributed. Serve immdiately. Makes four servings.

Mario Batali’s

  • 1/2 pound guanciale (or pancetta or good bacon)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  1. In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, render and cook the guanciale until it is crispy and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Do not drain the fat from pan and set aside.
  2. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook the spaghetti, until tender yet al dente. Drain the spaghetti, reserving the pasta cooking water.
  3. Reheat the guanciale in the pan with the fat and add approximately 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss in the cooked spaghetti and heat, shaking the pan, until warmed through, about 1 minute. Add the grated cheese, egg whites and black pepper and toss until fully incorporated. Divide the pasta among 4 warmed serving bowls. Make a nest in the center for the egg yolk. Gently drop an egg yolk into each serving, season with more freshly ground black pepper and grate additional cheese over the top. Serve immediately.

THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW

Since preparing carbonara in our teenhood, we’ve adapted a signature way of preparing other baconish pasta. Our favourite on-the-fly pasta (a spicy tomato clam dish) begins with adding olive oil to a hot pan, followed by a sprinkling of sea salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and… wait for it… a few slices of pepperoni. We routinely save some thin rounds in freezer bags for such emergencies. Sliced into matchsticks, the pepperoni fat and flavour melts into the oil, making it positively dreamy. Once things are sizzling and smelling like heaven, we add a drained can of clams and some fresh garlic. True story. When they’ve had a good bath, we pour in a can of diced tomatoes with their juice and let the whole thing simmer. We’ve dared to add a splash of wine, a shot of vodka, or a splosh of beer to the bubbling mix as we allow it to reduce ever so slightly.

A sprinkling of fresh parsley and a bit of parmesan as you’re serving, and you’re done. Yum!

It’s a versatile dish. You can forgo said clams in favour of shrimp, salmon chunks, or anything else you can think of.

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3 Responses to “Now and then”

  1. Gretchen Hakola October 13, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    I got a kick out of finding this recipe on your blog. I first made it when the ’94 issue of 17 mag came out and it’s been a favorite in my family ever since. Haven’t found a restaurant version that can beat it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] 15, 2010 · Leave a Comment Our beloved spaghetti carbonara recipe is rivaled only by […]

  2. Fusilli, you crazy bastard… « Saucy Cherie - October 29, 2010

    […] First on the list, our beloved spaghetti carbonara. […]

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