Today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday recipe is a fast (ready in a half hour) pasta dish made to stick to your ribs. It’s great for a last minute meal as you probably have all the ingredients at home right now.
What? No spaghetti? Some people sure are strange.
The origins of Spaghetti all carbonara are unclear, although it’s usually attributed to Rome. All we know for sure is that “carbonara” comes from the Italian word for coal, “carbone.” Beyond that, some suspect this tasty plate came about because:
(1) it was prepared for coalminers;
(2) it was originally made over charcoal grills;
(3) it was invented by the Carbonari, an Italian secret society (not to be confused with the carabinieri); or
(4) the pancetta and black pepper in the dish look like little bits of coal.
That last one kinda grosses me out, and you know I’m fond of conspiracy theories and whatnot, so let’s opt for the secret society explanation for the sake of this post, umkay?
However it came about, Spaghetti alla carbonara gained popularity around World War II when Italians began to eat bacon and eggs shipped over for American troops; thereafter, soldiers returning from the war took home a delicious pasta dish along with a victory.
There are many, many different recipes out there for Spaghetti alla carbonara, but I’m giving you the one we eat in our house–no cream, no bells and whistles, a real just the facts ma’am kind of plate.
And it’s wonderful if I do say so myself.
By the way, you can certainly substitute bacon here, but if you can find some Italian-style bacon, aka, pancetta, do splurge.
It’s worth it.
Spaghetti alla carbonara
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 thick slices pancetta, diced
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper
1 package (500 g) spaghetti
First, put on the water to boil for the pasta.
Now put the olive oil in a medium skillet on medium heat, and then add the onions, garlic, pancetta, and almost all of the parsley, leaving some for garnishing if you like. Let this cook for about 2 to 3 minutes–just don’t let the pancetta dry out. When it’s done, stick a lid on it to keep it warm.
In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, cheese, salt, and black pepper.
Tip: to regulate salt, taste a piece of the cooked pancetta and also pay attention to how salty your cheese is. Remember you’ll be cooking your pasta in salted water, so you shouldn’t need much salt added to the egg mixture. A dash of black pepper should be plenty.
Once the water is boiling, add salt and cook the pasta until al dente and drain.
Now return the pasta to the empty but still warm pot and stir in the egg mixture, letting the heat cook the eggs. You can turn the burner on low here, but just be sure the eggs aren’t sticking. If I happen to be using an undesirable egg-cooking kind of pot, I drizzle a little olive oil on the bottom before adding the pasta and egg mixture to prevent a sticky mess.
Once the eggs are cooked, transfer the mixture into the pan with the pancetta and mix together well. If the pancetta isn’t hot enough for your liking, turn the burner on low until you’re finished combining.
Sprinkle on a little fresh parsley and serve immediately.
Note that this recipe is meant for one package of spaghetti, so if you’ll be making more pasta, adjust everything else accordingly.
[tags] spaghetti alla carbonara, carbonara, pasta recipes, pancetta, eggs, cooking, what’s cooking wednesday[/tags]