One of the things I loved most about living in a large house with four other women was the different cooking backgrounds and skills each one of us brought to the table (pun intended). This was years ago in Austin, and we did not have the ready access to information that we have today. But we all worked at the Public Library, so we at least had access to a vast physical database of information. The kitchen was large enough to house two refrigerators (and a washing machine!), so space was not an issue and our schedules were different enough that we were each able to do our thing mealwise without getting in anyone's way.
We mostly cooked and ate for ourselves during the week, but on weekends we would usually cook and eat together, along with any friends who happened to be around. And there were always friends hanging around, as we had four acres of land, a covered basketball court, a swimming pool, and a trampoline available to us. (Yes, that was one sweet deal.)
And one of the meals that a housemate cooked for us was Spaghetti alla Carbanara. We all watched with horror as she dumped the cooked pasta into a bowl full of raw eggs, stirred it all together, and then expected us to actually eat it! But once plated it did not look at all disgusting, and smelled really good, so we stuck our forks into it and gave it a taste.
And oh my gosh was it delicious! Creamy and smoky and luscious. I never forgot that dish, but I never made it myself. Now that I have been making my own pasta I am constantly on the lookout for new and different things to do with it. I didn't have much in the house in the way of vegetables (don't pretend that's never happened to you) and I needed a quick dinner. I did have some bacon in the freezer and I always have Parmagiana Reggiano and eggs on hand, so I decided it was time I tried to recreate the dish I had enjoyed so many years ago.
And it was just as good as I remembered it. Better, in fact, because the bacon was applewood smoked, the pasta was freshly made, the black pepper was freshly grated, and the cheese did not come out of a can. In a word, perfection.
It might not look all that great in the picture. I try to make my photos look pretty, but I can't always manage it. And to be honest, it's not a high priority for me. I know that we eat with our eyes, but I'm more interested in how my food tastes than how it looks. If I had had parsley (or any fresh herbs for that matter), I would have garnished and it would have looked that much better. And I guess it would have tasted better too, so if you plant to make this, especially for company, do be sure to get some while you are shopping for the rest of the ingredients. But I can assure you I was not at all mourning its absence while I was eating it.
And I just noticed this - if you look closely at the photo you will see little bits of yellow in the mix. I forgot that I had a little bit of yellow pepper that I diced and cooked up with the bacon. It's not traditional, but it tasted good and kept me from having to throw away food.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes
PASTA ALLA CARBONARA4 servings
4 oz bacon diced
12 oz fresh tagliatelle, linguini, or papardelle
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus extra for garnish
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Heat a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Combine the eggs and water in a small bowl and beat together with a fork, then set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium high heat in a skillet until crisp. Do not remove the bacon from the fat, but remove all but a tablespoon of the drippings.
When the water starts to boil add a generous amount salt and then the pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and then return it to the pot. Immediately add the bacon with its drippings and the egg to the pasta while it is still hot and toss well, until the pasta is completely covered with the egg and cheese.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with more cheese and the parsley.