Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara [Rhonda]

Degree of Difficulty: Easy to medium
Time: 20-25 minutes total
Serves: 2 (starving) to 4 (normal) people

To Zack, Matt and Nick: when I first arrived in Manhattan and, shortly after, met your dad, the discovery of fine Italian food (we’re not talking Luigi’s of Rock Hill, SC, or the local Pizza Hut, my only prior exposure) is one of my fondest memories of that time. On what has turned into a lifetime of dates and dining out, Michael and I have savored the best parmigianas (chicken, veal), fettuccine alfredos (still sublime when executed correctly), and a particular favorite from Bruno Restaurant on 58th Street, spaghetti carbonara.

It became a quest: in other Italian restaurants all over New York, in Italy the year after we were married, and on business trips (San Francisco, Washington, wherever) to find the ultimate, the best possible version, with Bruno’s as my standard.

Many attempts at home—combining recipes clipped from all sorts of places, adding cream, subtracting an egg—has resulted in this current rendition. No heavy cream. And, sadly, no Bruno Restaurant to return to—it was shuttered several years ago.

1 pkg bacon (I use a 12 oz. pkg of center cut for less fat)
2 cups (or more ha!) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (go for primo)
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ to 1 small onion, minced
3 eggs, whisked
12 oz. thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta, or less if you want more sauce
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Cut bacon into small pieces and cook over medium heat until done but NOT crispy. Remove from skillet and pour off most of the bacon grease. Add diced onion and minced garlic, cook 1 to 2 minutes low heat. Remove from skillet.
2. Boil water for pasta. While that’s heating up, in mixing bowl whisk the grated parmesan cheese into the eggs.
3. Add pasta noodles to boiling water and cook al dente. Drain, reserving 1 to 2 tablespoons of pasta water in noodles (trickiest part of the whole recipe…too much and it spoils your sauce, too little and your mixture is gummy). Return pot to stove and add the bacon, onion/garlic mixture, and egg/cheese mixture. Stir continuously. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note to cheese freaks: (You know who you are, Koulermos boys!) there can be a thing as too much cheese. And when that happens, your pasta goes dry on you. So…just beware.

Suggested soundtrack: “Almost Like Being in Love,” by Frank Sinatra

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