Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

It was in an airport bookstore that I first discovered Saveur magazine. That particular issue featured shrimp on the cover, and I instantly fell in love with the magazine's photography. I bought the issue and subscribed as soon as I arrived back home.

Saveur's 100th issue had a feature on bacon (see why I love this magazine?!) and contained a recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara that looked so pleasantly simple that I couldn't wait to make it. Wait, that's not true — it took me about 2 years to finally make this recipe! It was worth the wait.

I had made garlic confit about a week earlier by roasting a 2 heads of upside-down horizontally-sliced garlic, covered halfway by olive oil, in a glass dish along with a small handful of whole peppercorns and thyme. Cooking the garlic at 300 degrees for an hour not only produces perfectly spreadable garlic, but also yields the remaining flavored olive oil. Bonus! I started soups with this olive oil, dunked bread in this oil, and used it as a starting point for my Carbonara sauce. (Props to both Tony Fiore's Totally Vegetarian for the garlic confit recipe, and to the lovely blog 28 Cooks from which I won the book!)

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
(in Saveur, adapted from Marcella Hazan's More Classic Italian Cooking)

Heat 3 TBS garlic oil and add 2/3 lb of pancetta cut into strips — cook until edges are crisp. (I used regular ol' bacon this time.) Add 2/3 cup of white wine and simmer until thickened; remove from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup parmigiano-reggiano, 1/4 cup pecorino-romano (which makes EVERYTHING tastier and creamier!), a handful of chopped parsley, and 2 eggs. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup of hot pasta water to this mixture, then add the al-dente pasta and pancetta mixture. Season with salt and lots of pepper.

As I have mentioned before, I must remember that cooking with whole wheat pasta does not necessarily a healthy dish make! However, the (healthy) roasted brussels sprouts were the perfect side for this pasta.

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