Saturday, August 8, 2015

SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA

I prefer spaghetti carbonara made with unsmoked bacon instead of pancetta. If you are a purist, make it with pancetta or guanciale (pork cheeks). Authentic spaghetti alla carbonara does not contain cream. The creaminess comes from the eggs and cheese. Grate the cheeses, slice the shallots and garlic first and set them aside on a cutting board. This was my son Brandon’s favorite. We lived near an Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C. and he always ordered this when we ate there. Why go to a restaurant for this when you can make it to perfection at home?


8 oz unsmoked bacon (or use guanciale or pancetta), diced
2 T extra-light olive oil or avocado oil
2 T unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ cup dry white wine

1 lb spaghetti
3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 t red pepper flakes
1 T chopped Italian parsley
Thinly shaved Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese, for garnish

In a large skillet that is big enough to hold the cooked pasta, cook the bacon until crisp.
Pour out most of the fat and add the olive oil and butter; sauté the shallots for about 2 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the flavorful brown particles from the bacon. 
Turn off the heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente. 
Drain the spaghetti, but save 1 cup of the pasta water.

While the pasta is cooking, put the eggs and yolks into a mixing bowl. 
Add half of the grated cheeses and season to taste with black pepper and red pepper flakes. Whisk until well combined. 
Return the skillet with bacon mixture to low heat. 
Add the hot drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for a couple of minutes to incorporate.

Remove the skillet from the burner and pour the egg-cheese mixture onto the pasta, tossing quickly and thoroughly, 
which will gently cook the eggs using the heat of the pasta.
Return the skillet to low heat and toss another minute.
Add some of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce.
Add the chopped parsley, garnish with some shaved cheese and serve.

Serves 4


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