Sunday, August 29, 2010
I thought, “Huh? Easy carbonara recipes? Is there such a thing as a difficult recipe for spaghetti carbonara?....I’ll just post a link to my recipe….um….”
At which point I remembered that I’ve never posted about spaghetti carbonara. Possibly the dish I make most regularly. The one that DP requests for every last meal before he goes away, and every first meal when he gets back. The one he requests so often, in fact, that when I say, “What should I make for dinner for X?” I now immediately follow it with, “…and don’t say carbonara!” He would be completely on board with Calvin Trillin’s campaign to have it replace turkey as the national dish for Thanksgiving.
Every time I think about posting it, I think, “But that’s so basic. Everyone knows how to make carbonara. It’s so simple.”
Then I read other people’s replies to this request, which:
- included ingredients like chopped red pepper, peas, pesto, and chicken;
- said things like, “Oh no! That’s a company dish—too complicated!”’
- provided detailed instructions for what sounded suspiciously like fettucine alfredo; and
- recommended favorite versions sold in microwave packets and jars.
Okay…so maybe everyone doesn’t already know how to make carbonara after all.
Spaghetti alla carbonara
Despite having encountered much debate and countless variations on this theme, I remain firmly of the opinion that real, true Roman spaghetti alla carbonara includes only the following ingredients.
pancetta (or bacon)
parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano cheese
white wine or chicken stock
butter or olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Please note that cream in any form does not appear on this list.
1. Put pasta water on to boil.
2. Chop 8 oz/250 g/8 pieces of pancetta/bacon and start frying them over med-low heat, stirring occasionally.
3. Grate ~1 cup parmigiano or pecorino.
4. Add salt, then 1 lb/500 g spaghetti to boiling water. Stir and leave to cook.
5. Throw a splash of white wine or chicken stock into the bacon when it is starting to get crispy.
6. Mix three eggs in a small bowl.
7. When pasta is very al dente, reserve 1 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return to hot pan. Return pan to hot stovetop.
8. Mix 2 Tbsp/1 oz/30 g butter into hot pasta and stir to coat. Grind in some black pepper and throw in some cheese while mixing.
9. Add bacon and liquid from pan. More black pepper & cheese. More mixing.
10. Add beaten eggs. More black pepper & cheese. A splash of pasta water. More mixing.
11. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately, with more black pepper & cheese at the table.
While mixing, be sure to keep the pan on the hot stovetop, and the residual heat from stove, pan, and pasta will lightly cook the eggs into a creamy sauce. No cream is necessary. (Yes, I know I already said that. It cannot be said enough.) The whole thing can be done in the time it takes to heat the water and cook the pasta. It is the second-easiest pasta dish there is. It is the ultimate pantry/storecupboard meal.
Serves 4, barely, as a main course. Any leftovers will be rapidly hoovered up, especially if any of my household are in the vicinity.