Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pasta a la Carbonara

Pasta a la carbonara is a sumptuous, sinful dish, and it is pretty easy to make. You can knock it together in 15 or 20 minutes, it will impress your friends and probably will fill their arteries with gunk! And oddly, they will love you for it. I recommend not skimping on the ingredients. Cheap parmesan and less-than-heavy cream and Fakin' Bacon do not cut it in this dish! Use really good quality parmesan that's fresh, and grate it yourself. The same goes for the pork--a nice quality pancetta or good center cut bacon.

Man, I sound like such a Bossy-Boots!

This dish is especially quick and yummy with fresh pasta, but dried pasta works very nicely too. Here are the ingredients for enough to serve 4 people:

16 ounces of fettucini or linguini
8 slices of bacon or pancetta
1 cup of heavy cream
6 ounces of very finely shredded parmesan
2 egg yolks
fresh ground pepper
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup of peas (optional)

First, get the pasta water boiling. Then, in a big frying pan with tallish sides, cut up the slices of pork into about 1/2" squares and toss them in the pan to cook. I used a center cut bacon last time and it rendered a surprisingly low amount of fat. But fear not, there will be no shortage of fat in the dish! Once the pork has gotten well cooked (but not dry and crumbly!) remove all but about a tablespoon of the rendered fat. Turn the heat off--the pan is still going to remain pretty hot. Stir in about a cup of heavy cream, then the shredded parmesan and keep this mixture warm, but not sizzling hot.

Time to put the pasta in to cook. If it's fresh it won't take more than a couple of minutes. If you are adding peas, toss those in with the pasta to blanch. I don't think this dish has peas traditionally, but if you live with Andy Cleveland you put peas in just about everything.

When your pasta is practically done, whisk 2 egg yolks into the bacon-cream-parm mixture. Make sure it's warm, not boiling hot, and keep it moving so the egg yolks get incorporated. Drain and toss the hot pasta into the sauce, tossing to thoroughly coat it. The hot pasta also finishes cooking the egg yolk. What you end up with is a fairly thick sauce that really sticks to the noodles.

Transfer the pasta onto plates and garnish generously with fresh cracked pepper and chopped fresh parsley. Stop and notice how pretty it looks.

Your guests will get really quiet when they take the first bite. Then you will see eyes rolling back into sockets and you will hear groaning. Lots of groaning. Don't worry! This is all good. It just means the carbonara tastes so divine that there are no words.

If you decide to round out the meal with a salad, keep it really simple and light. Same goes for dessert--something light and fruity. Otherwise you'll have to remove your dinner guests with a crane.


Robyn O'Neill said...

I can testify to the magnificence of this dish. I have witnessed the creation with my own eyes - homemade pasta and all - and tasted its scrupulousness! It's my favorite!!!

Robyn O'Neill said...

Oh, and I had it WITHOUT peas, of course.

Janine Serresseque said...

My Fave, this is my favorite thing to prepare for you just because it is so much fun to witness your enjoyment of it!

Stevo said...