Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ruth Reichl's Spaghetti Carbonara

I recently picked up a copy of Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires, her memoir of her early days as a critic at the New York Times.  It's a fun book- it talks about how and why she came up with her legendary disguises and includes some of her best reviews from over the years.  She writes that the book will include recipes instead of photos since the book is about food- my kind of book.  When I saw this recipe of Spaghetti Carbonara, I knew I would need to try it.  I've always been heasitant about the whole egg yolk thing, but with my newfound appriciation for anything with an egg yolk on it, this dish might be perfect!  Plus its got bacon?  Sold!  

Since this recipe is in a book, I'm submitting it to the blogging event Novel Food, just under the wire. 

Ruth describes this as "bacon and eggs, but on pasta instead of toast." It's a good analogy. 


Let's see what wikipedia can tell us about the origins of the dish:

"Like most recipes, the origins of the dish are obscure, and there are many legends about it. As the name is derived from the Italian word for charcoal, some believe that the dish was first made as a hearty meal for Italian charcoal workers. Others say that it was originally made over charcoal grills. Still others suggest that it is so named because the specks of bacon and pepper in the pasta look like bits of charcoal. . . Its popularity began after the Second World War, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the United States. It also became popular among American troops stationed in Italy; upon their return home, they popularized spaghetti alla carbonara in North America."

Now that we've had our history lesson, the recipe:

- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1/4 to 1/2 pound thickly sliced good quality bacon (I prefer Nueske's)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 large eggs
- Black pepper
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano cheese, plus extra for the table

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When it is boiling, throwthe spaghetti in. Most dried spaghetti takes 9 to 10 minutes to cook,and you can make the sauce in that time.

Cut the bacon crosswise into pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Put them in a skillet and cook for 2 minutes, until fat begins to render. Add the whole cloves of garlic and cook another 5 minutes, until the edges of the bacon just begin to get crisp. Do not overcook; if they get too crisp they won't meld with the pasta. Meanwhile, break the eggs into the bowl you will serve the pasta in, and beat them with a fork. Add some grindings of pepper.

Remove the garlic from the bacon pan. If it looks like too much to you, discard some, but you're going to toss the bacon with most of its fat into the pasta. When it is cooked, drain the pasta and immediately throw it into the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the eggs and turn them into a sauce. Add the bacon with its fat, toss again, add cheese and serve.

9 comments:

michelle @ TNS said...

LOVE spaghetti carbonara, and this recipe seems much less involved than the one from cook's illustrated that we tend to use. yum!

Simona said...

Growing up, I ate spaghetti alla carbonara at home, as my mother would make this popular dish every now and then. It is really good, so it is no surprise that people like it once they taste it. Thanks for participating!

hayleynichols88 said...

I'm just about to serve this up for dinner! Looks better than mine though :-D

MrOrph said...

This is such a decadant dish. I made it a little while ago. It was my first time making fresh pasta. I used Guanciale as well. I know you can get some Guanciale on 9th Street. Please! Please try this dish with the Guanciale! Trust me, you've created a masterpiece with this, but with the Guan, it is truly an original.

This is such a good dish that I feel guilty eating it!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Looks wonderful! This is one of my fave pasta dishes. It's perfect when you're tired and don't feel like going to the store. I just made some a few nights ago. :)

Lisa said...

Lauren, I also loved Garlic and Sapphires. I've read all of Reichl's books, and that may have been my favorite. Thanks so much for joining us in Novel Food; you made it that much more special. Your carbonara looks great, and I remember it from the book. Cheers!

maggie said...

I loved that book, and quickly made the carbonara from it, too. Yum....

adele said...

I made spaghetti alla carbonara just last night, and I was thinking about writing a blog post about it, too.

I love Ruth Reichl's description of it. :)

librariane said...

Have you read her other books? I read G&S first, but just finished Tender at the Bone...

Thanks for the background on the dish, too! I hadn't thought to look that up before.