I am what many would call a "Foodie" - amateurs who simply love food and/or drink for consumption, study, preparation and news.
Now the statement above should make it clear that I do not have any formal training when it comes to food preparation. I have, however, been told that I am a pretty good cook and I hope you enjoy reading this column as much as I enjoy writing it.
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You know the scenario, it happens to all of us. It's dinner time, and you've got no idea what to make. You didn't take anything out to defrost and the thought of another frozen pizza is not appetizing. What to do? Check your staples: eggs, check; bacon, check; - hmmm breakfast for dinner? Nope, not again thanks - pasta, check; grated cheese check. I've seen this combination before, but never tried it myself. I think I've got it now … Spaghetti a la Carbonara. I had a recipe from Tyler Florence and one from Anne Burell. Which to try? First Tyler (his called for 2 eggs, hers for 8 which I didn't have), next week Anne's.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara via Tyler Florence
1 pound dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs (I used 3)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente (tender yet firm). Drain the pasta well, reserving ½ cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if needed.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta (I used bacon) and saute for about 3 minutes, until crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and more cheese if desired.
Try sautéing some onion and mushrooms with the bacon for an added layer of flavor and top the dish off with some red pepper flakes for a kick.