Sunday, August 17, 2008

When the Cat's Away, the Mouse... Eats Carbonara!

Sir Pickypants and I have been like two ships who pass in the night lately. I returned from a business trip to Denver on Saturday morning (I was supposed to return Friday night, but after two cancelled flights, I made it into bed at 4 AM on Saturday morning). The we had Saturday together before he left for a business trip to Chicago Sunday afternoon.

Being alone has its advantages. It means I can eat whatever I want for dinner without having to cook anything special for him. I can have a pint of Ben & Jerry's or a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner if I feel like it (No, would never do, I never did it in my single really).

However, I was poking around in my freezer, and discovered something really special, something that Sir Pickypants would never let me cook for him.

Rather than cook the stuff up and just eat it all at once, I decided to come up with a way to spread it out a bit. I would make Spaghetti Carbonara.

I'm not all that skilled at making carbonara, and I'm also not a purist. If I were a purist, I'd make a BLT and go buy some pancetta for the pasta dish. I also tend to like to doctor things. I know the classic recipe is just pancetta, eggs, and romano cheese, but goodness knows, everyone in the world has doctored this recipe to one degree or another. I've seen it in restaurants with onions, peas (NOOOOOO), ham, cream, and garlic among other additives, so if they can add a few extra ingredients, why can't I? I included the two things I love the most in my pasta dishes - red pepper flakes and garlic.

Getting the eggs to not curdle on the noodles is the big challenge. I was about 50% successful. I added some pasta water to the noodles before I added the eggs and when the eggs hit the water, they cooked, but they didn't do that so much on the noodles themselves. The next time I will likely temper the eggs with the water, or put the eggs in before I put in the water.

I had a small block of cheese and grated the whole thing. The recipe below calls for 1/2 of grated cheese, but this was my half cup.

Doing the hard part. Eggs into spaghetti. If I hadn't been taking pictures, would my eggs be creamier?

This could have had a little more saltiness to it. The next time I will use more bacon, more cheese, or just add a little salt to it.

Spaghetti Carbonara - My Way

1 pound spaghetti
4 strips bacon, cut in small pieces
1 Tbl olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 eggs lightly beaten
Few good grinds black pepper
Grated cheese (I use romano because it's, you know, Roman, but some people just can't resist their parmiggiano. Use what you like. I told you I wasn't a purist)

Put a big pot of heavily salted water on to boil. Cook that spaghetti as the package dictates, or until you think it's properly al dente.

Meanwhile cook bacon bits until crispy and yummy. Drain and set aside. Try not to eat them all before the pasta dish is cooked. (Not that anyone ever does that. Nope. Not me.) Drain off some of the fat in the pan, but not all of it. Fat is flavor, my good friends, and we want some of that greasy, bacony taste in there. There should be a sheen on the bottom of the pan. Add the olive oil. Then add garlic and red pepper and cook till fragrant. Beat eggs with black pepper.

When pasta is cooked, add it to the pan and stir to coat in that bacony-garlicky-peppery oil. Working quickly, stir eggs into spaghetti. Be quick, really quick. Don't let those eggs scramble on your noodles.

Stir in cheese and whatever bacon bits you haven't snarfed and serve.

Come to mama!


noble pig said...

This looks like heaven...yummy!

kittie said...

I think the is the first time I visited you - and you've totally won me over with microwave popcorn dinners and peas (NOOOOOO) :D

Adam said...

What in the world is wrong with peas? I mean they are small and smell funny when cooked, but so do a lot of us :)

Fixing food for yourself is a treat because you're the boss. I like the 'my way' carbonara, and who wouldn't... I mean look at that 1/2 cup of cheese :)

Emiline said...

Your 1/2 cup cheese is my 1/2 cup cheese, too.

Your carbonara looks good. I've only had it once, and I fixed it myself, so I'm not entirely sure if I made it right. I think I might have overcooked the eggs.
Does creamy sauce=salmonella?

Sorry you've been traveling so much. I wouldn't mind getting away. I love flying.

PS That bacon looks good!

PPS This comment was wayyy long.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Noble - Thanks. I worried that it wouldn't look good.

Kittie - thanks for dropping by. I will also state for the record that I don't ever eat microwave popcorn for dinner. (If I want popcorn for dinner,I will make it fresh with a stovetop popper!)

Adam - My extreme peaphobia is infamous in my family. I will systematically pick the peas out of EVERYTHING. I will pull them out of commercial veggie burgers and carefully separate them out of Chinese and Indian dishes.

Em - I choose not to think about the salmonella thing. It makes preparing carbonara that much easier. ;-) Don't worry about the length of your comments. I loves me a good long comment (unless it's negative of course). I certainly make novel-length comments on other people's blogs.

Bellini Valli said...

I'm sure it tasted as great as any carbonara out there:D

Tartelette said...

That's the kind of meals I make myself on boys night out!!

Lore said...

Creamy heaven with pasta and cheese! They sould make a carbonara diet, I just know people would be as thrilled as I am ;)

Clumbsy Cookie said...

I had that for dinner as well yesterday! I love carbonra! but hey if you have a pint of Ben & Jerry's can I go and have dinner with you?

Sue said...

Yummy! I love me a good carbonara, but about those peas... Sorry, but I love pasta with peas and cream. Plain peas are good too and so are peas with lettuce and onions - petit pois à la Française. Peas, peas, peas! Now, I'm just taunting you...

Dee said...

I heart bacon.
And like you I would NEVER eat microwave popcorn for dinner or call out for pizza or eat ice cream straight from the carton or have leftover chocolate cake for breakfast when the boys are away ;)

Great recipe! Excellent post.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Val - Thanks. I'm working on it. Husband needs to take more business trips so I can perfect.

Helen - YES! Not that I don't miss my man, but it's so great to cook myself all that stuff he won't eat when he's not around.

Lore - I'd eat an all carbonara diet. It wouldn't be hard to keep it interesting. Use pancetta one day. Add some cream the next. Try a different cheese.

Clumbsy - You can come over for dinner, but I'd buy an extra pint first. I'm not sure I'd share a single pint. ;-D

Sue - You're just mean! ;-p

Dee - I would never believe you would ever eat leftover chocolate cake for breakfast any more than I would

Lo said...

Bacon makes anything better, doesn't it?

I can't think of a reason not to fix food "your" way. This looks fantastic!

Tim said...

I'm a big carbonara fan, and yours looks great! I find that starting low and slow when mixing in the eggs is a good way to start out (and keep tossing in the pan), then when you get more experienced it's easier to speed things up.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Lo - Indeed it does.

Tim - Thanks for stopping by. I will definitely take your advice. I checked out your blog and I just love it.

Maria said...

This is my dad and brother's favorite meal! It was a staple growing up at our house!