Oh nads you guys…I made Carbonara for like the fourth time in two weeks because I figured out how to do it practically just right every time, but I hadn’t be able to get a good photo, and of course exactly when I tried to make it again explicitly to take photos, I stopped paying attention and messed it up. So then I had to make it two nights in a row and five times in two weeks so I can talk to you about it. Lesson learned, I guess, is that you can make it practically just right every time you actually pay attention when you make it, and don’t let yourself get distracted by the shenanigans on stage at the Grammys.
Man, is this good. This is also pretty much the quickest pasta dish around. I am guessing if you cook somewhat regularly, you will already have most of these things in the fridge, and if you don’t, they can all be procured very easily. Bacon, egg, decent parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper. I think spaghetti might be the traditional pasta for this, but I actually like something shorter, like my new favorite, gemelli, which I used this time with great results. The shorter pasta makes it a bit more comforting somehow.
The tricky part about Carbonara is the egg. Done the right way, the egg creates a creamy, rich sauce with amazing flavor. Done the wrong way, the egg scrambles, and it’s not right. I’ve eaten it…it’s not revolting or anything, but it’s not a sauce. Unfortunately, scrambling is very easy to do when you are adding a cold egg to a hot pan SO, I have come up with a trick that seems to work delightfully well. I mix the egg with the cheese and black pepper, and then make a quick sauce with some of the pasta water to temper the egg before I add it to the hot pan. If you do this, and then stir like crazy when you add it to the pasta, you should have amazing, creamy, adult macaroni and cheese that is so quick and delicious you won’t believe it. And you’ll end up eating it two or three times a week like I did. And then you will probably realize that two or three times a week is probably too many times, like I did.
This really couldn’t be easier…
And now…All of the things…
I made saag paneer tonight because I decided I need more roughage in my diet and…I still need more roughage in my diet. It wasn’t very good. But dipping the Naan in the liquid was insanely delicious, so I just did that instead. Oh, Paneer? If you are going to call yourself cheese, pleased to be tasting like cheese. If I wanted weird, bland texture, I would have just made tofu. BOOM. Roasted. (jk jk, love u tofu!) So, I’m pretty sure I did saag paneer wrong. I will try again and get back to you.
I just finished reading Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James. It was very cute, but I like her other stuff better.
I gave up tv and takeout for Lent. In theory, this means I will be hanging around here quite a bit more. In practice, this might mean I don’t survive Lent.
I am a very, very lucky girl…I have some of the greatest girlfriends in the world and you should all be jealous of me, because they are the freakin best.
Just a few more days until IGNITE the NITE 2013! If you are here you should come next Thursday the 28th, it is going to be great!!
Lastly, a shout out to Shannon. For fighting like a girl and winning. I am so glad to know you, and so very happy to call you my forever friend. To so many more years of Cheetos, sing-a-longs, Wegman’s trips and How to Lose a Guy…You are amazing. xo
Pasta Carbonara (serves 2)
1/2 lb pasta of your choice (spaghetti is traditional, I think, but I prefer a shorter noodle.)
4 oz bacon, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces (guanciale is traditional, but bacon will absolutely work. Use thick cut if you have it.)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 – 2/3 cups FRESHLY GRATED parmesan cheese (I measure this by holding a microplane grater over a measuring cup. A regular cheese grater would work. If you are using pre-grated parmesan, use the stuff from the deli section that looks shredded, not the stuff in the can or that looks almost powdered. Trust.)
Plenty of black pepper and salt to taste.
Chopped italian parsley for garnish
Boil some salted water for the pasta. (While the water is coming to a boil, do all of your chopping, grating and ingredient prep, once you start the sauce, things move quickly.)
Mix together the grated cheese, the egg, and a generous pinch of black pepper, and whisk to combine.
Add the pasta to the salted water and cook until al dente. (This will take about 8 minutes. It depends on the kind of pasta you use, but 8 minutes is a safe bet…)
After you add the pasta to the water, start cooking the bacon in a frying pan over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is cooked. You still want it to look fatty, not cooked through and crispy. When the bacon is cooked, reduce the heat to low and add the garlic. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly, so the garlic doesn’t burn. If the pasta is not yet al dente, turn off the heat and remove the frying pan from the burner until it is.
When the pasta is al dente, use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked pasta to the frying pan (no need to drain first, the water helps create the sauce AND you need to reserve some more pasta water for the sauce) and stir into the bacon and garlic to combine. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute and then turn off the heat. Quickly drizzle a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water into the egg and cheese mixture stirring constantly to create a sauce. Immediately add the cheese, egg and pasta water mixture to the pasta and bacon, again stirring constantly to create a creamy sauce and so as not to scramble the eggs. Pro-tip: if you drizzle the egg and cheese over the pasta, as opposed to directly onto the hot pan, you are less likely to scramble the eggs! (This sounds complicated, but I promise, it’s not. You’ll do it a couple of times and you’ll feel like a pro!)
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley and serve! Once you’ve made this a couple of times, I suspect you will be serving it to guests, and they will be very impressed. The recipe can easily be doubled, just make sure you are using a big enough frying pan.