When I was in grade school, I can remember going to dinner at my uncle’s rectory (he is a catholic priest) for Mother’s Day. The cook at the rectory made this delicious dinner, and one of the things she made was spaghetti carbonara. It was an amazing, creamy, cheesy sauce with bits of salty meat, and, after the first bite, I was hooked. At that moment, I fell in love. Ever since then, it has been one of my favorite foods, and it is the perfect comfort food for a cold, winter night.
Spaghetti carbonara has to be one of the easiest pasta dishes there is. By the time the pasta has boiled, your dinner is ready. The first thing you need to do is cook 1 lb of pasta according to the package directions. Traditionally, spaghetti is used, but I only had fettuccine, and was too lazy to go to the store, so that’s what I used. As the water is coming to a boil, cook 4 oz of diced pancetta in a saute pan large enough to hold the pasta over a medium heat. I get the pancetta at Wegman’s, and they have a pre-cut package that is perfect. If you can’t find pancetta, you can always use bacon. You want to saute it until it is crisp, but be careful you don’t burn it. If it’s cooked, and the pasta isn’t done yet, just take it off the heat as you wait for the pasta. As it’s cooking, in a bowl, whisk together 4 eggs and 1 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese. If you don’t have it, you can always substitute Parmigiano. Once it’s whisked together well, set that aside.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, but reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water. After draining, pour the pasta into the saute pan with the pancetta, and, if you had removed it from the heat, put it on a medium heat. Stir for a minute or so until combined and most of the water has evaporated from the pasta, then remove from the heat and pour in the egg and cheese mixture. Stir to combine and continue stirring as the heat from the pan and the pasta cooks the egg mixture and it becomes a thick sauce. If it becomes too thick, you can always add some of the reserved cooking water.
When it’s thick and rich, you can add some black pepper, and you’re ready to serve. Because of the salt in the pancetta, you shouldn’t need to add any extra. And if you’re worried about the eggs, you can always turn the heat back on as you stir the pasta and egg/cheese mixture. Just be careful to keep stirring so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.
It’s definitely a rich dish, but it’s so delicious. Give it a try and let me know how you like it!