You haven’t been to the grocery store in days and the cupboard is looking a bit bare. What can you prepare for dinner that is fast, delicious and hearty enough for the cold winter evenings? Pasta carbonara to the rescue!
Pasta carbonara is an Italian pasta dish whose origins aren’t exactly known. The dish is unrecorded before World War II, and some think it was created by Italians using bacon and eggs supplied by allied troops during the liberation of Italy. No matter what the historical basis for this dish, it is delicious and devilishly easy to prepare. You probably already have the ingredients in the pantry.
The recipe for carbonara isn’t fixed and will vary from cook to cook. Some cooks will add green peas, mushrooms, other vegetables or even cream, but the basic recipe always has eggs, bacon, a hard cheese like parmesan, garlic, pasta and black pepper. The meat used can be pancetta, guanciale (pork cheek), or slab bacon. The pasta most commonly used is spaghetti, but you can also substitute, fettuccine, rigatoni, linguine or bucatini. I did say you could make it with whatever you have in the pantry!
Pasta carbonara doesn’t require a long time to prepare. In 25 or so minutes, you can have dinner on the table. One note is that this isn’t exactly a low-calorie meal but if you keep the portion size moderate and serve with a green salad, it can be a healthy-ish meal. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well!
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence
Serves 4 to 6
Timing is important with this dish, so prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking. I suggest prepping all the ingredients before you start cooking to save time. That way, the pasta will be hot when adding the egg mixture allowing the eggs to cook.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook 8 to 10 minutes for spaghetti (time will vary for other types of pasta) or until tender yet firm. Drain the pasta, reserving about ½ cup of the starchy water for use in the sauce.
While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta or bacon and sauté about 3 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Add the garlic to the bacon and fat and sauté for about a minute to soften.
Add the hot drained pasta and toss in the pan for a couple of minutes to coat it with the fat. Beat the eggs and cheese 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, mixing quickly until the egg thickens but do not scramble (by mixing it off the heat). Thin out the sauce with the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt. Mound the carbonara into a warm bowl or serving plate and garnish with parsley and additional cheese to taste.
Do not overcook garlic as it will become bitter affecting the overall flavor of your dish. Typically you want to stop cooking when it starts to turn light brown if not before.