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?
adapted from Ruth Reichl’s A Fiestiary
1 pound spaghetti
½ lb thick-cut bacon
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large eggs
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.