Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Just This Once

I so was not going to blog about food. I'm a semi-serious food blog reader and I have no intention to try and make this one of those (see some links on the sidebar). But we also ate one of our favorite dinners tonight and it's so (fairly)easy and so (very)delicious that it almost seems rude not to share it.

It's definitely not a meatless dinner, but I would call it a "less meat" dinner. It's from a cookbook my Dad and his wife gave me, which I love. These days I don't look at the recipe, but I fell in love with it when I did, so I'll just copy it out of the book.

The first time I remember having spaghetti carbonara was in the restaurant of one of the hotels we were staying in. It was wonderful. After that I kept ordering it whenever I saw it on a menu. Occasionally it was okay, but sometimes it was very bland and once it took a few hours for all the fat that coagulated on the roof of my mouth to go away. I stopped ordering it after that. Then I found this recipe and I make it at least once a month now. The whole family loves it.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

3 large eggs
1 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. bacon (8 slices) chopped fine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine (I always use chicken broth)
3/4 pound spaghetti

Start your water boiling, add 1 T of salt and cook the pasta according to package directions (looking at the original recipe now, I'm a little surprised, because I always use closer to 1/2 lb. of pasta! No wonder the sauce is so good and rich...). You should work on the next 2 steps while you are waiting for the water to boil/pasta to cook so that the pasta will finish at the right time.

Wisk the eggs and cheeses together ( I use any mix of whatever hard cheese I have around) and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon and olive oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat until the bacon is crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last 30 seconds or so. Remove from heat.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the spaghetti. Dump it straight on the bacon and garlic in the frying pan (which should still be very warm, but not hot enough to scramble the eggs) and then dump the egg and cheese mixture on top of the hot pasta. Toss around to cook the eggs (hopefully they won't scramble, it should be a creamy looking sauce). If necessary add some of the pasta water to loosen the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Okay, so it doesn't sound as simple as it seems when you're making it. The actual recipe says to have a bowl warming in the oven to toss everything together, but that seems silly to me.

For dessert we had our favorite chocolate chip cookies. It's my go to CCC recipe, and I do "go to" it at least a few times a month. They're made with oil, but somehow still have this delicious buttery flavor. Plus they're lovely. I would post a picture but you can see lots of pictures if you follow the link at the bottom of the page under Foods I Loved. That recipe got either 5 stars or none (almost) some people thought they tasted like oil. That is such a tragedy. My sister tried this recipe and didn't like it either! So you've been warned. But lots of people really DO like them. For example, us. We love 'em. I always add a little less oil and omit the almond extract. I also beat and beat and beat the eggs with the sugar and oil.


sarah k. said...

Mmmm, carbonara and cookies... mmmm. No! No I can't! I can't make any cookies. The brownies last night only lasted last night. Somehow it has to stop. But is that physically possible? Is it psychologically healthy? I don't know.

jonesfamily said...

I only want to read about food if you send me a sample too!

Susan said...

I tried this once out of the Gourmet cookbook after reading Ruth Reichle's book where she talks about it as the ultimate easy, everyone-loves-it meal. We didn't love it. The eggs were still so gooey it seemed weird, though she mentions that in her recipe. Do you use regular parmesan in place of the pecorino romano? I'll have to give it another try, since it SEEMS like the sort of thing my kids would love...

jonesfamily said...

I keep hoping and hoping to see another post. You know I check this daily! How about just writing about what you did today?

Erin said...

This sounds so good Lisa, especially with some asparagus that is in season right now. I still make the recipes I got from you in Poland, so keep posting them. Those cooking blogs are too intimidating to me.