when quality counts: pasta alla carbonara

One of the best ways to discover how much the quality of your ingredients counts is to keep it simple. The delight of a fresh-from-the-farm[er’s market] tomato salad is a prime example. Another that I’ve discovered is pasta alla carbonara. Egg, a bit of pork, parmesan cheese and pasta are really all that matter. When I received a piece of guanciale at the last swap, I knew carbonara was in my future.

Creamy, warm and comforting, carbonara fulfills a lot of the same craving points as macaroni and cheese without being quite as over the top. It’s also incredibly easy to pull together, for one or four. Throw some sliced onions and cubed guanciale in a pan and let them melt together. Boil some pasta [my choice that evening was a thin spaghetti] in salty water. Beat an egg and mix with grated hard parmesan cheeses. [Mixing varieties of cheeses is encouraged, but not mandatory.]

Toss the pasta, onions and bacon with the eggy mixture off the heat and all of a sudden, your pasta is coated with a rich, creamy sauce, the eggs having cooked slightly without scrambling. With all of the egg scares lately, I’ve felt very thankful to have access to farmer’s market eggs. This dish, along with runny-yolked fried eggs, would be on the backburner if I didn’t trust my eggs and their farmer one hundred percent. Now that I’m done with that soapbox, let’s take a look at the final bowl.

No pasta is complete without a bit more cheese. Dig into that. Enjoy a simple meal on a cold evening.

Pasta alla Carbonara [for one]

adapted from Gourmet

This recipe makes a hearty one bowl – if you’re looking for a larger serving, the recipe it was adapted from makes four.

  • 1.5 oz guanciale [or pancetta or bacon]
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp pasta water [or white wine or broth]
  • 1/3 lb spaghetti or pasta of your choice
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ oz Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • salt and pepper

Prep a pot for the pasta – fill with water, cover and put on high heat.

Dice the guanciale into small cubes and cook in a deep skillet over medium heat. Stir often, and once fat begins to render [3-4 minutes], add sliced onion. Cook for at least 10 minutes, until the onions get golden brown and caramelized.

When your pasta pot begins to boil, add salt and pasta. While the pasta cooks, whisk together the egg, grated cheese and salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and add it to your skillet. Toss the pasta with the onions and pork. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the egg mixture, tossing to combine. And eat!

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About nomnivorous

A food enthusiast who cooks, bakes and eats it all... And if it happens to be cute, it's even more likely to be eaten by this nomnivore!
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