Pardon my absence last week. I had been feeling rather craptacular for several days, and wondered if my commitment to a 16-week quarter hog share with The Piggery CSA resulted in a bit of porcine revenge in the form of swine flu. I don't really know if that is what I had, but it seemed like everyone around me was afflicted and it dragged on and on and on. Anyway, to get back in the cooking saddle, I focused on - what else - bacon. A pasta that truly highlights the smokey, fatty, delicious cured meat - Pasta alla Carbonara. Technically carbonara calls for guanciale, but this is one case where I break from tradition because the bacon-based carbonara is what we in the US grew up on, and thus what I was craving on a very rainy, cold weekend.
Carbonara is pretty much the simplest pasta you can make. It takes no more time that whatever you need to boil your pasta. You may have twinges of guilt when you realize that the entire point of this pasta is egg and bacon fat, but you get over it pretty quickly. I balanced out the richness with some broccolini. Okay, I sauteed that broccolini in the excess bacon fat...recipe after the jump:
PASTA ALLA CARBONARA
1 pound spaghetti
6-8 ounces thick cut good bacon, pancetta, or guanciale, sliced 1/2-inch thick
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano (or parmiggiano reggiano)
freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. As soon as you drop the pasta in, start to saute the bacon pieces and the whole garlic cloves, rendering the fat just until the bacon starts to brown and crisp around the edges. You don't want to get the bacon too crispy or it will not incorporate nicely into the pasta. Remove the garlic cloves and let the bacon sit until the pasta is ready. Break the eggs into your serving bowl and whisk with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. When the pasta is done, drain, then immediately transfer to your serving bowl with the eggs and quickly toss to coat the pasta. Add the bacon, it's fat (as much as you need to coat the pasta nicely), and the cheese and toss well. Taste and adjust for pepper. You may not need to add any salt depending on the saltiness of your cheese and bacon. Serve immediately.