Spaghetti Carbonara, My Way
Last week, I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show on the travel channel, which I think is one of the best travel/food shows there is. Anyway, he was visiting Rome and was at a family owned restaurant where there was a big debate between the traditional recipes of Spaghetti Carbonara – some say the type of pork product to use is pancetta, others guanciale, some say bacon is never to be used. There are harsh debates over using pecorino romano, parmiagiano-reggiano, or a combination of both. Some add vegetables (like squash blossoms), while others stick to the traditional pasta, eggs, pork product, cheese, and black pepper.
Recognizing that there is a debate over the specifics of this recipe, here is my version. It’s my take on what is, regardless of all these variations and debate, a fantastic dish. In fact, it’s one of my favorites and it’s a cinch to make from start to finish. My version of Spaghetti Carbonara uses black pepper bacon, parmiagiano-reggiano, farm fresh eggs, and sweet green peas. It takes about 20 minutes to make (and most of that is waiting for the water to boil).
Spaghetti Carbonara a la Vivek (serves 2)
1/2 lb of spaghetti (feel free to use regular or whole wheat)
6 slices of black pepper smoked bacon
2 fresh whole eggs
1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup of petite peas (either fresh or frozen works)
First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it starts boiling rapidly, season the water with salt. Dump your pasta in the water and cook about 1 minute shy of the box instructions.
Second, start cooking the bacon. Slice the bacon into strips (lardons). I cook my bacon very slowly over medium low heat so the fat renders out and it becomes incredibly crispy. This takes about 6-7 minutes.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, cheese, and lemon zest. This mixture should look like a thick paste. If it’s runny, add some more cheese to thicken it up.
Once the spaghetti is cooked, take a pasta rake and put the pasta into the pan with the bacon. You want to get a little bit of the cooking water in the pan, but not too much (that’s why you aren’t draining the pasta, completely). Cook the pasta with the bacon and add the peas. Toss it around for even coating with the bacon/peas and let it cook until the pasta gets to the perfect al dente state. You are essentially finishing cooking the pasta in the sauce.
Now, turn the heat off and add the egg/cheese mixture. You don’t really want scrambled eggs, you just want the pasta to be creamy because of it. Season the dish with salt, and feel free to add some more black pepper if you wish.
This is a great go-to meal since you probably have all of these ingredients on hand anyway. Feel free to use turkey bacon here, although you might have to add some extra virgin olive oil to lubricate the pasta.
You could probably make it for dinner. I think I will!