Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara is Hubby's favorite pasta dish and was on the menu for Valentine's Day this year (granted it actually happened Tuesday night, but whatever last minute decisions to grill steaks to take advantage of unseasonably warm weather are definitely acceptable!) Given that this was something I'd shied away from for a while I went straight to the experts at Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen for help and background reading materials.

After much reading I realized that the technique behind this dish was just as important as the ingredients. I tried out their suggestions, but there were a few hint I picked up along the way so am going to incorporate them into the instructions for next time. All in all, very delicious.

Pasta Carbonara

8 oz pasta
4 oz bacon, sliced into small pieces/ribbons
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth (or dry white wine)
1 1/4 oz shredded cheese*
2 large eggs
2 small cloves of garlic, finely minced/pressed
Table Salt

Optional Step - Preheat oven to 200 and warm the serving dish you will use to mix and serve this dish. I went ahead and did this step, but if you were baking bread or something that would probably make the dish too hot, but you might be able to microwave it?

  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon pieces in the olive oil until they reach your desired "doneness" (since we all know bacon is an ongoing battle between the crispy and the floppy factions).
  2. Add chicken stock/wine and reduce a bit then set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs together and mix with the cheese(s) and garlic.
  4. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions (I used a spaghetti) with 2 tsp of salt in the pasta water. Reserve some of the cooking water before draining the pasta just in case you need to add it to your sauce to help coat the noodles.
  5. Take the drained pasta (still slightly wet) and pour into the dish you are going to serve out of (potentially the one that has been warming in the oven) and immediately toss with the egg/cheese mixture. Use a little of the reserved liquid if necessary. -->The "immediately" is key here otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs from them sitting on top of the hot noodles for too long before the tossing begins.
  6. Once the noodles are coated, toss in the bacon mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste and serve right away. --> Some people toss the bacon at the same time as the eggs, but from what I read this can get clumpy so I wasn't going to take any chances of the bacon not being as evenly distributed as possible ;-)
Deliciousness personified I tell you, deliciousness.

*I used 1/2 oz of a Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese blend and then an additional 3/4 oz of Parmeasan.

1 comment:

  1. Note to Self: Cut back on the salt when using regular noodles vs a whole grain blend. Also consider draining some of the bacon fat when using regular noodles.