I am appalled to see that I haven't written since March 28th. I was on such a roll for a while!
My absence from the blogosphere is due to my recent trips to New York and Colorado, and to our current class block, Skills Development 1. My weekend in New York was another epic chapter in my love affair with the city. Steamboat Springs gave me skiing, sunshine, and smiles.
On the other hand, Skills Development 1 is kicking my ass all over town. Rulers don't lie when I'm trying to dice onions into perfect quarter-inch squares.
But these are excuses. Thank you to my loved ones who have gently chided me to write more often. You keep me focused on my food writing.
To honor that food writing focus, today's post features a recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara from Saveur Magazine. I traveled to New York to interview and try out in Saveur's test kitchen. My visit went well, and starting in September, I'll work a five month externship at Saveur. On the top floor of the magazine's editorial offices in Midtown Manhattan, this test kitchen is my dream workplace. I'll be testing recipes and exploring exotic ingredients all day long. YESSSSSSSSSS!
This Carbonara sauce is easy to make at home, much more so than pesto or a quality tomato sauce. If you can cook bacon and you can stir, then you can make this delicious Italian classic.
For this recipe in particular, it is very helpful to have all the ingredients portioned out into little bowls beforehand. For example, once your pancetta is cooked, it's really helpful to have your egg yolks and Parmesan cheese ready to add.
4 TBSP olive oil
4 oz pancetta (quarter pound if you're asking the butcher)- you can use thick cut, un-smoked bacon, cut into half-inch pieces
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 3/4 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg plus 3 egg yolks (crack the three eggs in half and pour the yolk back and forth between them until the whites have slipped away)
1 pound spaghetti
1. Start large pot of salted water to boil for spaghetti.
2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet; add pancetta and cook until slightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add pepper and cook until the pepper aroma is noticeable, 2ish minutes.
3. Transfer the cooked, peppered pancetta to a large bowl (you'll add the cooked spaghetti to this bowl later) and let cool a little.
4. Add egg plus 3 egg yolks and 1 1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese to the pancetta bowl. Save the rest of the Parmesan to top the finished dish. Mix eggs, cheese and pancetta until just combined.
5. Cook spaghetti in boiling water for 8-10 minutes; try a strand to test doneness. It should be just bite-able, not soft or gluey.
6. Before straining the pasta, pull out 3/4 cup of the cooking water. It will look slightly milky, but this liquid will give the Carbonara sauce more body than regular water would without the heaviness of cream sauce.
7. Strain the spaghetti and add to the large bowl of pancetta, eggs and cheese. Toss the pasta while adding the reserved cooking liquid a little at a time until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. I found that 1/2 cup was enough coat the spaghetti without being watery.
8. Salt and pepper as you like. Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Don't be intimidated by the number of steps I've described here. This recipe is really just pasta tossed in a bacon, egg and cheese mixture.
With a pound of spaghetti, this recipe is enough food for a dinner party or several lunch and quick dinner leftover options as well.
Come September, I will be cooking Saveur's recipes, just like this one, multiple times before they are published and shared. I've already started the countdown.
In the meantime, back to knife drills for Skills 1. I have to pass this class first!