This is one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. I learned about Spaghetti alla Carbonara from a college friend, whose dad loved to cook. He was an airline pilot and would be gone from home for large stretches of time. When he would arrive back home, it was always a time to celebrate with a great feast. One of the dishes he loved to prepare was carbonara. I like to make it with linguini...I just prefer that to a spaghetti noodle. I have tried it with fresh peas and with asparagus to give it some freshness and crunch. Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the
spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very
important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the
heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce. Work quickly when adding the egg mixture...you want a creamy consistency, not scrambled eggs.
- 1 pound dry spaghetti or linguini noodle
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/2 pound bacon,sliced in 1 in.pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 handful fresh chopped basil
- Optional- Fresh peas or asparagus
- Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian "al dente.")
- Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame.
- Add the bacon and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic and shallot into the fat with the crushed red pepper and saute for about 1 minute to soften. Add cream. Stir.
- Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and GENTLY toss for 1 minute to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency.
- Whisk the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Add cooked pasta and gently toss. Add optional vegetable. Pour into pan with the bacon and cream. Coat and heat through.
- Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and salt.
- Mound the pasta into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped basil.
Serve with Ceasar salad and a loaf of crusty bread.