I love watching cooking shows, but I don’t have cable so most of what I watch is on CBC (for those of you not from here it’s our national tv channel). They broadcast two cooking shows in the afternoons: Best Recipes Ever and In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita. This week Best Recipes Ever’s feature recipe was Spaghetti Carbonara, which I’ve never made, so I thought I’d give it a try. Instead of using the recipe from the show, I turned to my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook in hopes of making something extra special and found this version which claims to add more flavour. Much of that flavour must come from the bacon fat because it doesn’t say to drain the bacon before you add it to the pasta. I didn’t like the thoughts of that so I soaked up most of the grease with a paper towel before I added it to the pot, and I think it still turned out just fine. I didn’t have any spaghetti so I used shells and ended up making the pasta too soon, so it cooled a little and when I added the egg mixture it didn’t get creamy. I put it back on the burner on low and stirred constantly until the sauce started to thicken. It worked like a charm!
Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
From Cook’s’ Illustrated (September-October 2001)
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound bacon (6 to 8 slices), slices halved length-wise, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces (In France, we use lardon, pre-sliced from the supermarket. Proscuitto would also work.)
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 large eggs
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese , finely grated (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese , finely grated (about 3/4 ounces)
3 small cloves of garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced to paste
1 pound spaghetti
ground black pepper
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, set large heatproof serving bowl on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large Dutch oven or stockpot.
2. While water is heating, heat oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Add wine and simmer until alcohol aroma has cooked off and wine is slightly reduced, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm. Beat eggs, cheeses, and garlic together with fork in small bowl; set aside.
3. When water comes to boil, add pasta and 1 tablespoon table salt; stir to separate pasta. Cook until al dente; reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta for about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet. Transfer drained pasta to warm serving bowl; if pasta is dry, add some reserved cooking water and toss to moisten. Immediately pour egg mixture over hot pasta, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes or 3/4 teaspoon table salt; toss well to combine. Pour bacon mixture over pasta, season generously with black pepper, and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.