Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tutti Mangiare --- Spaghetti a la Carbonara

Italian is my favorite cuisine…betcha you can't guess why. So, last night I made one of my favorite dishes, Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

No, not the junk you get in restaurants with the pasta drowning in cream and bacon…this one's the real deal. And, no cream, no bacon.

I first had this dish in a real Italian restaurant more than 30 years ago, and I've developed several different versions of it. Almost every time I've made it for someone they thought it would contain the cream and bacon. One ungrateful guest even went so far as to insult me by saying it wasn't authentic…'cause it didn't have the you know what. Guess who's never getting invited to my house again...pedantic a-hole. Well, it turns out Mario Batali has a recipe similar to mine in one of his cookbooks...that's authentic enough for me.

Badabing's Spaghetti alla Carbonara

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound prosciutto, cut into small, strip-like pieces
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 small garlic clove, cut in half & crushed with knife blade
Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 pound of spaghetti

Bring 5-6 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt if desired.

Heat oil in a large saute pan (big enough to hold the cooked pasta) on medium heat, add the onions, and cook until they are soft but not brown. Add the garlic and prosciutto and cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Cook spaghetti until al dente and drain…just follow the instructions on the box...it's not rocket science. If you overcook it, say three our father's, four hail mary's, beat your naked butt with a ping pong paddle, and cook it again. Depending on who you are making this for, you may want to reserve the paddle for after dinner entertainment...hell, it worked for me :-)

Reheat the pan, if needed, until the ingredients are warm, but not sizzling. Add the pasta to the pan & mix well. Then add the cheese and mix well. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the eggs & mix well. The residual heat from the pan & the pasta will cook the eggs. Add some parsley and Badabing Badaboom...you're done!

I like to serve this with an arugula salad and a good red wine.

Don't get all hung up in your undies measuring out exact ingredient amounts...it doesn't matter all that much...just taste, touch, and smell as you go...and adjust to suit your own palate.

When made with prosciutto (I call this my rich man's version), this dish is simple but elegant. You can also use pancetta in place of prosciutto for a more traditional version. When I was young I and couldn't afford prosciutto, I used to make my poor man's version by substituting pepperoni and using oregano to spice it up a bit…don't say ouch…it was always a hit, but more rustic than this version.

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