Spaghetti Carbonara

A friend recently reminded me that “Miyoko hasn’t eaten in a while.” After an unplanned two-month hiatus, however, my appetite has been whetted and my creativity steeped, and I’m once again brimming with enthusiasm to huddle down in the kitchen and share the tales of my trials (and occasional errors).

Ingredients for spaghetti carbonara

I also have a new kitchen in which to work. Since I last posted, I moved to a new apartment that is equipped with a large kitchen with ample counter space and a live-in sous chef: my beau, Rob. Plus, we have a balcony—which means I’ll soon be testing the greenness of my thumbs in an attempt to grow herbs and small vegetables in an outdoor planter. (Lots to come on this and any garden tips are welcomec—more so, encouraged!)

My first home-cooked meal in my new house was a trio of summer salads (ingredients and recipes mostly from my CSA). We had couscous with almonds and parsley (to which we added chicken and which was my favorite), warm new potato salad with grainy mustard (which Rob liked the best), and a simple spinach, strawberries, and balsamic vinaigrette tossed salad.

On Wednesday, however, I cooked up a meal I had been anxiously waiting all day to make.

It came from the pages of former New York Times restaurant critic and former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl’s memoir Garlic and Sapphires, which my book club is reading for August. Intertwined with stories of brilliant holes in the wall and bland hash browns are a few of Reichl’s recipes. They’re simple, meant to be made with ease, and filled with her favorite flavors, rather than always with what traditional calls for. The spaghetti carbonara, for example, requires just six ingredients, takes only as long as needed for the pasta to cook, and substitutes bacon for cured pork jowl. I was sold.

The source of inspiration (and of the recipe): Ruth Reichl's memoir "Garlic and Sapphires"

To divine the dish, which Reichl notes is often concocted with cream in restaurants but actually requires none whatsoever, you boil water and make the simple sauce while the pasta (one pound of it) is cooking.

With the pot on the stove, you cut up your one-quarter to one-half pound of bacon (I opted for the latter, of course) crosswise into half-inch pieces. Then you heat the meat in a pan for two minutes, or “until fat begins to render” (which for me, on medium heat, took just about exactly two minutes). Next, add the two garlic cloves, whole, and continue to cook the bacon another five minutes. The goal is not to create crisp crostinis of fat-laced pork but to finish with cooked–yet-still-soft strips. When the edges start to brown ever so slightly, they’re done. Meanwhile, continue to stir the pasta, and in a large bowl, mix your two eggs with a fork and add pepper.

The bacon, ready for cooking

The bacon cooking (but not quite sizzling, as you want it to stay a bit soft) with the 2 cloves of garlic

Here is  where the excitement and intrigue lies: the part in which the pasta cooks the eggs. When the spaghetti is ready, quickly drain the water and immediately pour the pasta into the bowl with the eggs and begin tossing as thoroughly as possible. Reichl writes that the heat of the spaghetti will turn the eggs into the cream—though I highly doubted this.

When my pasta reached the perfect consistency, I tossed it into the colander then quickly poured it straight into the bowl of eggs like a hot potato. Amazingly, as I pulled the pasta through itself with a fork, the strands from the bottom came up coated in cream. Granted, the process also resulted in small bits of cooked egg clinging to the strings of spaghetti as well but it added texture (and Rob even remarked how much he liked the little pieces of fried egg dotting the dish).

The pasta after being mixed with the eggs, before I added the bacon and Parmigiano cheese

Finally, you add the bacon and half-cup of Parmigiano cheese, mix, and serve. “I think of this as bacon and eggs with pasta instead of toast,” Reichl writes.

When we sat down to eat, it was love at second bite. The spaghetti on its own is alright. A twirl of it accompanied with a piece of the softly cooked bacon, however,  is amazing. We decided that this pasta should only be eaten with bacon in every bite as it gives each mouthful that little extra hit and pulls all the flavors together. One taste I was surprised to enjoy was the smokiness of the bacon. When I went to the deli to pick up the ingredients, the only options in the display case were smoked bacons. I tend not to like the taste of smoked foods but in this pasta, it was so subtle and complementary that I would make it a directive to do so again when cooking this up.

Voila, spaghetti carbonara

All in all, the spaghetti carbonara required little more than 15 minutes to make and I have heaps of it leftover. (On that note, next time I would use less pasta as a full pound is far too much for a recipe that is written to feed three.) So here’s to eating and the renewed updating of Miyoko Eats.


9 Responses to “Spaghetti Carbonara”

  1. 1 Sara 07/23/2010 at 1:28 pm

    Congrats on the move in. Last I heard you were still considering it. What neighborhood are you two in?

    I am also loving the book and had planned to make the Carbonara as soon as Jonah and I are done with our move.

  2. 2 dk 07/23/2010 at 2:40 pm

    yay! miyoko eats again!

  3. 3 Carren 07/23/2010 at 3:21 pm

    Looks yummy! I didn’t realize that’s how you made Carbonara. 🙂 Now, I kinda want to try for myself 🙂

  4. 4 miyokoeats 07/23/2010 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks for all the comments! I’m happy to be back cooking and consuming and am geared up for renewed regular posting. Sara: We moved down the peninsula to San Mateo and are just loving it. The downtown is lovely and there are lots of good restaurants to try. Carren: It was so easy! You should definitely give it a go!

  5. 5 sis 07/26/2010 at 9:38 am

    make a dinner of appetizers please. no more of these one dish updates. or. make a dish without a recipe.

  6. 6 Roadside Assistance in Benton 06/20/2013 at 5:46 am

    I rarely leave responses, but i did a few searching and wound up here Spaghetti Carbonara | Miyoko Eats.
    And I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be just me or does it look as if like some of these responses come across like written by brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are writing on other social sites, I’d like to follow anything new you have to post.
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