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Recipe: Spaghetti alla Carbonara

My favorite pasta and perhaps one of largest contributors to my Botticelli Belly has to be the Roman classic: Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  Also known as the go-to dish when you’ve had a few too many beverages and you need something quick and easy to prepare, this Italian version of bacon and eggs is a fan favorite and also supremely easy to master, even for the less experienced cook.  The sauce can be combined with any type of pasta, but you really do want to be sure to have a sufficient bacon-to-mouth vehicle to really make this dish shine.  This is a more Americanized version of the classic; most Italians prepare this without onions/stock base and with guanciale (cured pork cheek) instead of bacon, but I love the extra sweet crunch the onions bring and let’s face it, bacon reigns supreme (and is easier to find).  Give our version a try tonight!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara (with a porcini twist!) Spaghetti alla Carbonara (with a porcini twist!)

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

6 oz Applewood smoked bacon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced ½-inch (about 3 cups)
1 ½ cup chicken stock
1 box spaghetti (1 lb)
4 egg yolks
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Set a pot on to boil water for the pasta.  Beat the egg yolks, some black pepper and most of the Pecorino together and set aside.

Cut bacon into ¼ inch pieces.  In a large heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook, stirring until bacon is lightly browned, but still soft in the center, about 6 minutes.

If necessary, pour off all but 3 to 4 tablespoons of fat from the pan.  Add onions and cook until wilted, but still with a  crunch, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Add stock, bring to a boil and adjust the heat to a lively simmer.  Cook until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add a generous couple of pinches of salt to the now boiling pasta water and cook pasta according to the instructions on the package, maybe 1 minute less if you’re an al dente kinda kid, it’s gonna cook a little more in the sauce.  Be sure to save about a cup of the cooking water once the timer’s almost up.  Once cooked al dente, drain the pasta and add it to your saucy bacon pan.  Stir over medium heat until sauce and pasta have become one delicious being; if it’s seeming a little sticky, add some pasta water. 

Once combined, remove the pan from the heat and add egg yolk mixture SLOWLY,  constantly stirring and tossing.  The last thing we want is eggs starting to solidify within the dish!  Garnish with remaining cheese, some freshly ground black pepper, and serve!

Makes 4 servings.

Rigatoni alla Carbonara Rigatoni alla Carbonara

The classic pastas of Rome: Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, and Amatriciana. The classic pastas of Rome: Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, and Amatriciana.

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