Friday, November 29, 2013

Linguine alla Carbonara


What's not to like about bacon and eggs, especially when you combine them to make a simple yet super delicious creamy sauce over pasta tossed with a liberal dose of grated parmesan and cracked black pepper? I don't know much about the origin of this pasta dish, other than that it is from Rome and was probably created sometime in the mid 20th century. But, no matter - all I care is that I can whip it up in no time and it tastes pretty damn good!

The classic version usually consists of pancetta or bacon cooked in a bit of fat (e.g., olive oil), beaten eggs, grated cheese (Asiago or Parmesan), and chopped fresh Italian parsley tossed with hot spaghetti. There are other less traditional iterations, of course, and I've adapted mine from a Martha Stewart recipe. For the sauce I use egg yolks only, to which I add a bit of cream and sautéed minced garlic. My pasta of choice is linguine, and I garnish each serving with a good sprinkling of fresh lemon zest and chopped Italian parsley. Buon appetito!

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried linguine (feel free to substitute with spaghetti, fettuccine, or other pasta)
1 tbsp. olive oil
8-10 slices bacon or pancetta (about 8 oz.), cut into 1/4 - 1/2" pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 egg yolks
1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

GARNISH:
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook until golden, about 8-10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Leave the drippings in the pan.

2. Whisk the egg yolks, cream and parmesan together in a small bowl until just combined. Set aside.

3. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until just al dente. Turn off heat but do not drain.

4. Bring the heat up on the skillet with the bacon fat to medium low (if there's too much fat, just remove until you have about 1-2 tbsp. left) and add the garlic. Cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn off heat. 

5. Using tongs, remove the pasta from the hot water, shaking to remove excess water, and add to the pan of sautéed garlic. Add the bacon and stir in the egg-cream-cheese mixture. Toss well to ensure that the hot pasta cooks the egg through and creates a creamy sauce. Add a ladle or two of the pasta water to the pasta if the sauce is too thick. 

6. Season liberally with about 1 tsp. black pepper. Serve in individual serving dishes and garnish with chopped fresh parsley, lemon zest, and extra cheese, as desired. 


Lemon zest, Italian parsley, garlic, grated parmesan, and chopped bacon. 

 Combine egg yolks, cream, and parmesan.

Stir well (do not whip). 

Heavy cream, black pepper, and olive oil. 

Saute bacon in 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat until browned.

 Remove the bacon to a paper towel to drain.

In same pan with bacon drippings, add minced garlic and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat.

Use tongs to remove pasta (shaking to remove excess water) to the pan with the sautéed garlic. Add the bacon.  

Stir in the egg yolk-cheese-cream mixture to the hot pasta and toss well to ensure the eggs are cooked through and a creamy sauce is produced. 

If the sauce is too thick, thin out with a ladle or two of the hot pasta water. 

Season with a liberal amount of black pepper and about 1/2 tsp. of salt (or to taste). 

Garnish each serving with fresh lemon zest, chopped fresh parsley, and grated parmesan cheese.

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