Pinnacle of Pasta

Our house special

What kind of family-style food chronicle would this be if I didn’t tell you all about our relationship with Pasta Carbonara, our favorite family supper?

Well, Carbonara, as we affectionately refer to it, is probably the one and only meal I prepare that provokes J to shout for joy, that is, other than bacon. But Carbonara has lots of bacon in it, along with eggs and cheese, so there you go.

You see, every night, as the sun makes its swift departure behind the neighbor's roof, J drops his light saber and comes nosing around me as I get pans moving around in the kitchen.

"What's for dinner?"

If, as happens 6 out of every 7 days, I answer (in my best Mrs. Cleaver voice):
"Why, all your favorites, Dear; chicken with kung-fu sauce, scrambled eggs with pickles on top, and a great big pile of French fries".

"Oh, boy, Mom, thanks!" (gives me a big bear hug, and skips off to wash his hands).

HA! No, sillies, that's not what happens.

Basically if the menu consists of anything other than Carbonara, he falls on the floor in a raging, apoplectic fit. Kind of like Jake La Motta during the steak scene in Raging Bull, except he doesn't actually throw any food at my head. (and that would merit a time-out, for sure).

I have to admit, that Carbonara is also one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. My husband holds the title of Official Maker of the Carbonara, but lately, I've tinkered with the tried-and-true recipe (because that's what I do), and now have made it even more comfortable and delicious.

Pasta Carbonara alla FamilyStyle

For 4 generous servings

4 ounces applewood smoked peppered bacon * (see note)
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 pound of your favorite dried uncooked pasta, but make an effort to use the imported Italian stuff
1/2 bag frozen baby peas (optional, but makes this seem more like a "one dish" meal)
1 small onion, diced very fine (about 1/2 cup)**
4 eggs, lightly beaten in a small bowl
1/4 cup each freshly grated Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano (plus more if you're like me - a cheese piggy)
Chopped Italian parsley

Fill your biggest pot with water, throw in a good handful of salt - pasta cooking water should be as salty as the sea - and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, slice the bacon and prosciutto into roughly 1-inch pieces. Put the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes, until it starts to render its fat. Keep cooking until it begins to crisp and turn brown on the edges. Toss in the prosciutto, and cook for a few minutes to crisp, too. Remove the whole lot from the pan with a slotted spoon, and place on a paper-towel lined plate.

Your water should be boiling about now; put the pasta in to cook. Halfway through, add the frozen peas.

Cook the onion in the hot bacon fat until it softens, about 5 minutes. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the boiling pasta water and whisk into the eggs - this will help prevent scrambling the eggs when you toss it all together.

Drain the pasta and peas and add to the skillet with the onion. Pour on the eggs, tossing to coat. Add the reserved bacon and prosciutto. Serve hot topped with the cheese and some parsley.

* I like to use very, very good bacon, like Nueske's. Another brand I like is Wellshire Farms.
** The onion could potentially be a big "ick" factor. My kids don't even know it's in there, because it's finely chopped, and it melts into the sauce. I think it adds a nice layer of flavor.

Copyright (c) 2006 FamilyStyle


Alanna said...

Tell J I love this as much as he does! It was my staple meal a few summers ago. My version, however, calls for lots of good black pepper.

Bruno said...

Nice looking pasta... sounds like a great recipe!