Mar 10, 2009

My Favorite Pasta

Anyone who’s ever ordered Pasta Carbonara in a restaurant – listen up. You’ve been duped. They tricked you. It’s not your fault, and it’s not too late to set it right.

Dinner for One: Spaghetti alla Carbonara

What is REAL Pasta Carbonara? Well, for starters it doesn’t involve any cream sauce. The ingredient list is short: pasta (usually spaghetti), eggs, cured ham, olive oil, black pepper…and not much else. Some folks add grated parmesan cheese, but that seems like gilding the lily to me…

Essentially, you make the sauce in the serving bowl - the egg is cooked by the heat of the pasta & transforms into a rich, creamy sauce. Tossed with salty ham and lots of black pepper, it’s neither low-cal nor nutritionally sound - which makes it the ultimate comfort food.

How I made it:
Put a large pot of water over high heat to cook the pasta. Heat a quarter cup of olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium flame. Saute a handful of finely chopped country ham in the olive oil until it becomes crispy and add 1-2 tablespoons of ground black pepper. It’s a lot of pepper but I think it’s impossible to add too much here. If you’re nervous, just include a little now and add more once it’s finished.

Pick a wide, flat-bottomed dish to serve the pasta & crack one egg into it. Use a fork to gently whisk the egg until the yellow & white parts are combined.

When the pasta water comes to a boil, add a palmful of salt and an 8oz. box of regular spaghetti. When spaghetti is fully cooked, turn off heat under the pot & get ready to move fast.

Scoop spaghetti from the cooking water, drain very briefly & add it to the serving dish. Toss quickly until all the pasta is coated & the egg mixture has been absorbed. Add country ham & the oil it cooked in, toss to distribute and serve immediately.

NOTE: Don’t salt the finished dish until you’ve tried it. The pasta gets cooked in salted water, and the country ham is incredibly salty, so chances are you won’t need to add any more salt.


Kate said...

I love this pasta too. I've added thinly shredded brussel sproats in the past to make myself feel better about the health factor. It isn't traditional but it does go well.

Erin H. said...

This is great! I cannot wait to try this soon. I have watched your mom make this and was enthralled. I have added frozen peas to this (like Kate) to help the health factor.

The Single Gal said...

You might be interested to know that
Margaret & Franco Romagnoli had a television cooking show in the early '70's that featured this recipe. It was subsequently published in their 1974 book: The Romagnolis' Table. The book also has dozens more quick, authentic, delicious, easy pasta sauces that highlight the Italian philosophy of the best ingredients simply prepared.