Spaghetti Carbonara

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Wow ... haven't had this for so long and almost forgot how wonderful this dish really is. Simple, quick, and very satisfying. Minimal ingredients, not a lot of fuss, and ready at a moment-and-a-half's notice. Even more amazing is the fact that the husband made it today! Yep, it's that easy :) Not that I'm undermining his abilities as a cook, for he does cook some awesome stuff. But that he would come across a video online, then ask me if we had bacon and Parmesan, to which I said 'Yes', then immediately declare that he would do lunch ... so yes, it really is that doable! 

Now, if you're queasy about uncooked or undercooked eggs, this one isn't for you, I'm afraid. Because the very essence of carbonara is the emulsion of yolks and oil coming together to make a light, yet rich sauce coating every spaghetti strand in creamy goodness.

You'd be hard pressed to find people enjoying raw eggs today, but where I'm from, this doesn't turn heads or raise eyebrows. People would down a raw egg in their morning energy drink, or fold it into congee or rice. Yolks were prized for their protein content, long before protein powders hit the shelves. But if you're uncomfortable about the threat of salmonella, you may want to take a pass. That's my disclaimer right there, and not even in fine print :)

The important thing is to toss the really hot pasta into the egg mixture, effectively 'cooking' the eggs in the process. And that is why in this recipe, the bacon, onions, and egg mixture is prepared beforehand, ready for when the pasta is done. Of course if SuperMom was cooking, she could start the pasta when the onions were cooking, thereby shaving 10 minutes off this recipe. If she was cooking, that is ;)

Finally, if you really loved carbonara, you may want to go to a fancy grocery store and get pancetta, because it is de rigeur for an authentic carbonara. But in its absence, bacon will do just fine. And today, I had bacon, and believe me, it did just fine.

450 - 500 g spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt

8 - 12 slices of bacon, depending on how much you like bacon ;)
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole egg
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup grated Pecorino (I used Parmigiano Reggiano)
2 tbsp chili flakes
More grated cheese, to serve

1. Heat a large skillet or a non stick fry pan, then cook the bacon.
2. When it is fully cooked and starts to crisp, remove them from the pan and place them on a paper lined plate to absorb excess oil.
3. In the same pan, cook the onions and garlic. There will be enough bacon fat to get this done. If there is too much, remove the excess.

4. In a large bowl, whisk the egg, yolks, grated Pecorino, and chili flakes.
5. In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil, add the olive oil and salt, then place the spaghetti in, cooking up to the recommended time.
6. Save up to a cup of pasta water when draining.
7. Toss the hot pasta into the large bowl with the egg mixture, fold in the onions and garlic, then crumble the crispy bacon onto it. Toss again.
8. If the pasta is too dry, add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time until desired creaminess is achieved.
9. Plate immediately, sprinkling a bit more Pecorino and chili flakes before serving.

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