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Pasta Carbonara

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Since our bacon-curing adventure gave us a beautiful chunk of homemade bacon, Nathan and I have started brainstorming all the different ways we can use it. As I mentioned before, our bacon turned out quite salty, so we can’t really eat slices of it for breakfast. But fear not, because as our friend Brian likes to say, everything tastes better with bacon!

For our first attempt, we wanted to use the bacon in a dish that still allowed it to be the star and not dress it up too much. The first thing out of my mouth was ‘pasta carbonara,’ one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes. This is another one of those pasta dishes that take as long to prepare as it does to cook the pasta, so that fulfilled our second goal: not having to wait too long before eating.

My carbonara usually involves a few more ingredients but this time, I opted for the simplest recipe possible for the sake of the bacon. Mario Batali comes to the rescue! His recipe talks about separating the egg yolk and egg white, so that you gently nestle the yolk on top after tossing the pasta with the egg whites. As much as I’m a big fan of seeing whole egg yolks on top of dishes, I actually prefer tossing the pasta with all of the eggs instead because it creates a creamier and clingier sauce.

2-3 handfuls of diced bacon, pancetta, guanciale (or any fatty, cured pork product)
½ pound of pasta (we used bucati because that’s what we had in the house)
a big handful of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (pecorino’s ok too)
2 eggs, room temperature (submerge eggs in warm tap water for 5-10 min if they’re from the fridge)
freshly ground black pepper

Render and brown bacon in a pan over medium heat until crispy and golden. Leave fat in the pan and pick out the bacon chunks. Set aside.

Bring water to boil in a large pot and add a few pinches of salt. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.

When pasta is almost done cooking, beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add in the cheese and plenty of ground black pepper.

Reheat bacon in the pan and add a ladle of the pasta water. Throw in the cooked pasta and toss quickly in the pan. Turn off the heat, add pasta and bacon to the mixing bowl, and quickly toss everything together. The heat of the pasta should cook the egg mixture slightly, so that it thickens into a sauce that coats the pasta. If the pasta seems too dry, add a little more pasta water. Serve immediately.


Yield: 2 servings
Time: ~15 min

4 Comments

  1. trietnam said:
    1 July 2008 at 4:17 pm

    hey, do you think this recipe would work using pancetta instead? i might try it this weekend.

  2. angi said:
    1 July 2008 at 4:29 pm

    yes, definitely! pancetta would work great here, as would any salty, fatty, cured pork product really. mario’s recipe called for guanciale but i think pancetta and bacon are both much easier to find.

  3. Stacy said:
    16 July 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Lovely blog! I stumbled upon it while looking for levain starters.

    Pasta carbonara is one of my favorite comfort foods, and I can only imagine how much better it would be with home cured bacon. Fresh pork belly doesn’t last long around here, though, because I love to make thit kho (caramelized pork belly with shallots)!

  4. angi said:
    18 July 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks Stacy! Thit Kho sounds pretty awesome too… I’d love to try that!

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