Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spaghetti alla Carbonara - American Style

I grew up in Rhode Island, where half the people claim to have a cousin Vinnie in the Mafia. I couldn't make that claim myself, as I was a misplaced wasp lucky enough to be born in a State where some of the best Italian food can be found outside of Italy. In the 1930's and 40's you might have risked your life to go to some of the fine Italian restaurants on Federal Hill. So you weighed your odds, maybe kept track of which families were at war, and went to The Hill. It was that good! In more recent times the families found out that while crime may or may not pay, owning a fine Italian Restaurant definitely did pay! It was a case of "If you cook it, they will come!" And we did! If you find yourself in Rhode Island you should definitely get yourself up to Federal Hill. You can almost walk through any restaurant door and get yourself a meal that will have you scheming and planning to get yourself back there for another one. I'm going myself this month.

So why have I Americanized Carbonara? I know, it's almost blasphemy, but sometimes life gets in the way of me getting to our version of Little Italy to get the pancetta. Therefore, I'll use some of the bacon from our very American Costco.

Here we go!

1 package of spaghetti or your favorite pasta. I used a 12 oz. package.
2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3/4 to 1 cup of Bacon crumbles (depending on your love of bacon)
4 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced.
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
Freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a large pot boil the water to cook your spaghetti. When the water is boiling, toss in the spaghetti and stir often enough so it doesn't clump. Cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

While the spaghetti is cooking put 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a pan, over medium heat. Cook the bacon crumbles until they're fairly crisp - about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat lightly. Add the 1 cup of the grated cheese and put aside.

Drain your pasta well and add to the bacon/garlic mixture. It's important that you do this while the pasta is still hot! Toss well with tong. Take off of the heat.

Now add your egg and cheese mixture and toss well. Season with pepper. Garnish with the remaining freshly grated cheese. Serve immediately!

***** If you like a creamier carbonara, make a cream sauce and add about 1/2 cup of it to the mixture. (You can always save the rest of the cream sauce for something else.) I did this by making a light roux - melting 3 tablespoons of real butter, and adding 3 tablespoons flour. Whisk constantly for 4-5 minutes over low heat. Pour in enough cream, until its the right consistency and color, and thickens nicely. Then grab a big handful of freshly shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese (maybe 1/2 cup) and whisk until its melted. Put aside until you're ready to mix it in. Make sure it's all well mixed with the pasta, bacon/garlic mixture and toss well. I think it improved the dish quite a bit, even if it did mess up more equipment for me to clean.

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