Thursday, March 3, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara

I really can't look at Rachael Ray anymore.  At least I try not to, but good grief, she's everywhere.  Back in 2000 when I was a newlywed and learning to cook, I watched her 30 Minute Meals show on Food Network every night when I got home from work.  She taught me to chop onions, how to use olive oil, and to deglaze a pan, along with how to prepare a meal from start to finish.  If you don't know how to do those things, I would suggest tuning in to her show once or twice (if you can stand it).   And please, if you do watch her show never say EVOO.  Ever.  Please.  Annoying.

One of my favorite recipes of hers is the classic Spaghetti Carbonara.  It's so fast to make that it takes longer to get the pasta water to boil than to prepare the actual meal.  And the kids liked it, too. But check it! You have read the directions very carefully. 

Spaghetti Carbonara* (adapted from Rachael Ray)

1 pound spaghetti (use whole wheat or Barilla Plus)
3-4 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used champagne, because I'm fancy. Really, I just had it leftover from New Years, but it worked just fine. You can use chicken stock, too, if you don't do wine.)
2 large egg yolks
Handful of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I didn't have any, so I left it out. It's better with.)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add a liberal amount of salt and the pasta. Cook to al dente, about 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and brown for 5-7 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine and stir up all the pan drippings.

3. In a separate bowl, beat yolks, then add 1 large ladleful (about 1/2 cup) of the pasta cooking water. This tempers the eggs and keeps them from scrambling when added to the pasta.

4. Drain pasta well and add it directly to the skillet with bacon. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta. Toss rapidly to coat the pasta. Remove pan from heat and add a big handful of cheese, lots of pepper, and a little salt. Continue to toss and turn the pasta until it soaks up egg mixture and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley and extra cheese.

*One serving of pasta is just half a cup, which is about the size of your fist. Don't eat too much! Fill up your plate with salad first (ours was just spring mix with yellow peppers and homemade balsamic vinaigrette), before plating the pasta.