This dish takes me back to the week I spent in Northern Italy in 2011. I maximized my relatively short stay by eating five meals per day, many of which included various types of pasta (and gelato). However, one of my all-time favorite meals is spaghetti carbonara– a truly wonderful, and gluttonous pasta dish loaded with bacon, cheese and simple, custard-like sauce. I’ve yet to recreate this dish to the caliber of what I ate in Italy, but it’s a cinch to make and it won’t break the bank.
Serves: 4-6 Portion Size: 3-4 ounces Prep Time: 15 min. Cook Time: 20 min.
1 pound thin spaghetti
½ pound thick-cut bacon
2 fluid ounces milk
1 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons red chili flake
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch Italian (curly-leaf) parsley
1 bulb garlic
½ dozen eggs
1 10-quart stock pot
1 ladle (wood or silicone)
1 medium skillet
1 cooking sheet
1 metal whisk
1 sharp kitchen/chef’s knife (non-serrated)
1 4-cup measuring cup
1 cutting board
2 small bowls
Wash parsley and pat dry before chopping; place in one of the small bowls and set aside.
Fill stock pot with cool water, add salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
Separate peel from the garlic by positioning a knife horizontally so that the blade rests flat atop the garlic clove, and carefully “smash” the flattened blade with the palm of an open hand; finely chop the garlic, place in the other small bowl and set aside.
Remove eggs and bacon from the refrigerator and allow the eggs to come to room temperature; place skillet over medium heat (empty).
Slice the bacon lengthwise end-to-end and cube into ½-inch pieces; carefully place the bacon into the hot skillet and season with a pinch of salt and ½ of the black pepper.
By now, the stock pot of salted water should be boiling; add pasta to boiling water and submerge, stirring occasionally to ensure pasta doesn’t adhere to walls of stock pot.
Continue cooking the bacon until it caramelizes (browns), approximately 10 minutes, allowing the fat to render (separate); once cooked, remove from heat and strain excess grease (or keep and add later) by placing bacon on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
In the same skillet (with a light coating of bacon grease) add the garlic and lightly brown.
When the pasta is al dente– Italian translation: “to the tooth,” in reference to its slightly chewy yet firm texture– remove from heat and drain water using strainer/colander; lightly toss in olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together and place on a cooking sheet.
Crack eggs into the measuring cup with milk, remainder of black pepper, red chili flake and a pinch of salt; whisk thoroughly until eggs are beaten.
Portion the desired amount of pasta, chopped parsley, roasted garlic and bacon into a serving bowl and toss with 1 egg’s worth of the whisked egg mixture and top with a generous amount of Romano/Parmesan cheese.
*Make sure pasta is still fairly hot. The idea here is to allow the warmth of the pasta heat up the egg mixture, bacon and cheese to the point where it creates a sort of sauce.