Go ahead. Put that gun to my head. Make me decide. Don't tell me you haven't thought about it, too. You know THE QUESTION: Name your top five favorite things to eat. Given that it would be hard to name my top twenty-five favorite things to eat, I do have certain things that with every bite always make me happy. A perfectly steamy bowl of cassoulet....a savory plate of osso buco....a crusty medium rare rib eye hot off the 'que. I would also have to include a pasta or risotto in there, just for the comfort food aspect. And if you made me decide which pasta, I would have to go with spaghetti alla carbonara, in all its pancetta-ey, eggy, cheesey glory. I LOVE carbonara...it always satisfies, at least when I make this version. This version being for me the definitive recipe by none other than the doyenne of Italian cooking, Marcella Hazan, from her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which to me is a must for any cooks shelf. I posted about this over a year ago, and since have tweaked it a little bit for the better, and after a most pleasantly indulgent plate the other night, thought it was time to share again for all you new readers. For such a quick and easy pasta, I can't imagine what could feel better than this classic. Get ready to swoon..... ********************
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
4-6 oz. pancetta cut into 1/4" dice (or if you must, use regular bacon. Sadly, it won't be as good.)
4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 large eggs
3/4 cup grated parmagiano-reggiano cheese (Marcella calls for 1/2 cup parma and 1/4 cup pecorino-romano, which I hardly ever have and doesn't make a huge difference)
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1# spaghetti, preferably DeCecco dry pasta
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
Extra grated Parmagiano for passing
1. Put large pot of water on to boil for pasta. When boiling, add salt and pasta.
2 Lightly mash garlic with knife blade, which will loosen the skin. Discard skin. Put garlic and olive oil into 10" sauté pan and turn on heat to medium high. Sautee until garlic turns medium gold, and remove and discard it.
3. Put diced pancetta into the pan, and cook until they crisp. ( I let mine get quite crispy, and a bit smoky, which I think adds depth of flavor). Add wine at this point and let bubble away for 2 1 or 2 minutes and turn off heat.
4. Break the 2 eggs into the serving bowl you'll be using for the pasta and lightly beat with a fork. Then add the cheese, a liberal grinding of pepper, and the chopped parsley. Mix thoroughly.
5. When pasta is done, take about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta. Add the cooked, drained spaghetti to the bowl and toss rapidly. While tossing, briefly reheat the pancetta and add to the bowl, toss thoroughly again, add a bit of the reserved pasta water and serve immediately. Pass extra Parmagiano.