Seeing as how it's International Bacon Day today and all, I'd been seeing a lot of tweets from my foodie friends about that mouthwatering meat. A girl (OK, this girl) can only take so much of that kind of thing before a massive craving sets in, and set in it did. My brain became fixated on having myself a big bowl of carbonara.
I had never made carbonara before, but I was feeling adventurous, so I decided to try my hand at making it rather than heading to a restaurant. So I swung by the store and picked up the ingredients (along with a whole slew of other goodies I hadn't intended to purchase) and dove in. Bacon-celebrating purists may criticize, but I ended up with pancetta rather than bacon, 'cause it just looked so dang good (and because I personally think pancetta is much better in this particular dish). Pancetta has been called the Italian version of bacon; both are made from pork belly, but bacon is brined and smoked, whereas pancetta is seasoned with salt and pepper, wrapped up into a big roll, and cured.
To make the carbonara, I more or less followed this recipe, which I'm going to copy here in my own words, because I'm paranoid that one day I'll want to go back to a recipe that I've linked to and it'll have gone the way of the mastadon. Also, I tweaked it a little...as usual.
* 1 lb spaghetti
* 1 lb pancetta, thickly cut (I got mine in slices about 1/3" thick)
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese + extra to sprinkle on top
* 4 cloves of garlic, minced
* 1 T olive oil
* freshly ground pepper
* white wine (about 1/4 cup - amount isn't critical)
* chopped Italian parsley
1. Boil water for your spaghetti (as you'll see from the photo below, I accidentally grabbed a package of cappellini. I think spaghetti would be better for this application).
2. Cut the pancetta into cubes.
3. Heat a frying pan on medium and add the olive oil, garlic, and minced pancetta. Cook until a lot of the fat on the pancetta has cooked off and the meat is pretty well browned. Take the pan off the heat and add the white wine, then put the pan back on low heat and let it simmer.
4. At some point during the pancetta-cooking process, your spaghetti water will boil. Add the pasta.
5. In a big bowl (large enough to fit the entire batch of cooked pasta), crack two eggs, add the cheese, and grind black pepper all over it. Stir the mixture together with a fork.
6. When the pasta is done, strain it, then add it to the bowl with the eggs and cheese and black pepper and STIR. Keep stirring. You don't want the eggs to scramble, but they will be cooking from the heat of the pasta.
7. Add the pancetta to the pasta and mix in. If you want to tell yourself you're being fat-conscious (You do realize you're about to eat a meaty, cheesy, pasta dish, don't you? But suit yourself...), you can scoop out the pancetta and leave the fat + wine mixture behind. But I do think that having at least some of that mixture in the pasta adds a lot (Julia Child would be proud!).
8. Before serving, add a generous helping of the parsley, some more freshly ground black pepper, and a sprinkle of cheese.
9. Bliss out. You can start your diet tomorrow.