I had started out thinking this would be another “She’s Killing Me” story; it certainly qualified but this pasta dish turned out so well that it’ll just be another cooking story. Well, not completely.
But it’s my creamy Spaghetti Carbonara.
The kids were in Japan for over three weeks and landed at LAX at night on August 17th. In short, the ex insisted on picking them up and keeping them for a few days. But she decided it would behoove her to bring them to my house so she changed the schedule at 3 pm the next day. They were dropped off at my house at 5:30 pm. Of course, she had selfish reasons and yes, they were in la-la land from jet lag. They slept for the most part for the first couple of days.
Seriously, I had mentioned to the kids they should have some kids over since school begins August 31st. Jack just wanted to stay home but my Little Cake Boss Brooke… That’s a whole ‘nuther story.
All week, between snoozes, she was asking if I would take her and her friends shopping.
“Sure but DON’T make it last minute, OK?” said I.
Just like the previous two times… Wednesday, no plans. Thursday, no plans. Friday, no plans… Then Saturday, at 3:30 pm, she says, “Can ‘J’ come over?”
I never learn. “Sure,” I hesitatingly replied.
“…Can sheeee… eat with us,” she cunningly asked. Never mind I had gone to the supermarket already for just the three of us.
“Oookay” I replied even more hesitatingly.
Then the whammy: “…Can sheeeeeeeee… sleepover?”
So I decided to make Spaghetti Carbonara – for the first time. I thought her friend J would give some feedback if I asked her. So I went to Cook’s Illustrated… and the pasta dish turned out excellent if I say so myself.
The ingredients are simple and I had them in the fridge already – except for the Pecorino. Yes, because of my Little Cake Boss, I had to make another run to the supermarket just for the cheese. Well, actually two since the first place didn’t carry it:
- 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (They’re easier to slice up if you freeze them for a bit.)
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 1/2 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated (1 1/4 cups)
- 3 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1 teaspoon salt
Putting it all together was a snap; their instructions are:
1. Bring bacon and water to simmer in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat; cook until water evaporates and bacon begins to sizzle, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until fat renders and bacon browns, 5 to 8 minutes longer.
Doing it in the above manner allows the bacon to remain chewy for the carbonara and not crisp up:
2. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Strain bacon mixture through fine-mesh strainer set in bowl. Set aside bacon mixture. Measure out 1 tablespoon fat and place in medium bowl. Whisk Pecorino, eggs and yolk, and pepper into fat until combined.
3. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. (You use less water than normal for this dish to insure the water you will add to the sauce is real starchy.) Set colander in large bowl. Add spaghetti and salt to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Drain spaghetti in colander set in bowl, reserving cooking water. Pour 1 cup cooking water into liquid measuring cup and discard remainder. Return spaghetti to now-empty bowl.
4. Slowly whisk ½ cup reserved cooking water into Pecorino mixture. Gradually pour Pecorino mixture over spaghetti, tossing to coat. Add bacon mixture and toss to combine. Let spaghetti rest, tossing frequently, until sauce has thickened slightly and coats spaghetti, 2 to 4 minutes, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water if needed. Serve immediately.
Most of all, happy faces!
So give this easy and delicious dish a shot.