Spaghetti Carbonara

8.27.10 § 9 Comments

Spaghetti carbonara. Sounds daunting. There are so many different versions of this dish that each time I’ve tried to decide on one to make, I’ve ended up throwing my hands up in frustration and picking something else for dinner.

That is, until I saw a version on Ruth Reichl’s website.  I am a sucker for Ruth, as I’ve already mentioned. If my previous explanation of my love for her isn’t sufficient, let me try once more to convey why I love her so. Bottom line, she showed me that it’s okay to be honest, to show your faults to the world, and to say, “Take me as I am, or not at all.” Her memoir Comfort Me With Apples is one of the most touching things I’ve ever read.

She outlines her triumphs and trials with equal care, not glossing over the messier details like the affair that preceded the end of her marriage or the loss of an adopted child. She is so honest, that reading it, I felt as if I could understand her decisions, (even the ones that seemed out of line), sympathize with her, and come to the conclusion that many situations are so complicated that to judge someone else is often a mistake. I respect her for sharing herself so fully. I hope that in my life, I will bare my faults with equal grace.

So what does this have to do with spaghetti carbonara? Not much. Other than the fact that when I found a recipe from Ruth, I no longer felt hesitant. I knew that if I didn’t love it even after all this buildup, she would probably understand. True to form, Ruth’s version eschews guanciale (cured pork jowl) for plain old bacon. It’s an honest, easy version of the dish that left me fully satisfied. Pasta with garlicky bacon and eggs? What’s not to love?

Spaghetti Carbonara
adapted from Ruth Reichl’s A Fiestiary

1 pound spaghetti
½ lb thick-cut bacon
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large eggs
Black pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese, plus extra for the table

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When it is boiling, throw in the spaghetti. While it’s cooking (until al dente, don’t overcook!), make the sauce.

Cut the bacon crosswise into pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Put them in a skillet and cook for 2 minutes, until fat begins to render. Add the whole garlic cloves and cook  5 minutes more, until the edges of the bacon just begin to get crisp. Do not overcook; if they get too crisp they won’t meld with the pasta. While the bacon is cooking, break the eggs into the bowl you will serve the pasta in, beating them with a fork. Add some grindings of pepper.

Remove the garlic cloves from the bacon pan. You’re going to toss the bacon and it’s fat with the pasta. You can drain a bit of the bacon fat if you want, if you think it looks like too much, but I’d advise against it. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain the pasta and immediately throw it into the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the eggs and turn them into a sauce. Add the bacon with its fat, toss again, add cheese and serve.

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§ 9 Responses to Spaghetti Carbonara

  • Tamara says:

    Sounds soooo good! I can’t wait to try this. Congrats on your first week at Saveur. Welcome back to the regular blogging routine. Life smooths out for you for a while now…so be it!

  • Laura says:

    Spaghetti Carbonara is one of my favorites! This is very much like the recipe I use, except I put in a splash of white wine vinegar, which adds a nice “bite” to it.

    • tyla says:

      Laura, I’m definitely going to have to try it with vinegar next time! It makes me want to run home and eat spaghetti carbonara again tonight!

  • Fat Steve says:

    Read this a few hours ago…made it for lunch!

    Loving the feministe posts.

    P.S. For dinner I’m making flatbreads with braised short rib, sundried tomatoes, and pine nuts…anyone reckon I should also add arugula?

  • Shady says:

    I just had spaghetti carbonara for the first time ever a couple of days ago (fittingly enough, at La Carbonara near the west village) and it was both delicious and possibly the richest thing I’ve ever eaten. It seems so easy to make at home that I feel like I have to give it a try. Have you seen Adam’s version over on Amateur Gourmet? The main difference is that he adds white wine and I’m contemplating whether to try it with or without. The main benefit of with of course is that I have plenty of wine left over to drink with dinner 🙂 Do you think that’s a good addition to this recipe?

    • tyla says:

      I don’t ever think that putting wine in food is a bad idea, haha! I like this version for its simplicity, but if you have some wine on hand, go ahead and throw it in. I trust Adam’s judgement as a general rule…so if he says it’s good with wine, I’m sure it is. I’m also looking forward to trying it with some white wine vinegar, as suggested above by Laura.

      • Princess Aioli says:

        Just last week I made a version similar to yours, but, like Adam, I added some Pinot Grigio to the bacon. It was the first time I tried it with wine, and it really made a huge difference! I also used a mixture of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Piave cheeses, and the dish had a wonderfully complex flavor. Of course, the wine is optional, but I highly recommend it!

  • Meredith says:

    I also love Ruth! Just finished Garlic and Sapphires. Your Spaghetti Carbonara looks great- mine never turns out quite right.

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