Friday, August 04, 2006
The Ultimate Comfort Food - Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti carbonara: salty, sweet, meltingly tender. My idea of the ultimate comfort food. When I was living in England my junior year of college, I must have eaten this dish at every Italian restaurant I encountered. My favorite thing to do was split an order with S at Pinnochios so we could also order something else. I miss eating with her. She was always game for anything.
I spend a lot of time watching Lidia's show on PBS and the first time I saw her make the dish on "Lidia's Family Table" I figured it looked easy enough to make at home. I'd always assumed it was a complicated recipe because it was so luxurious. When I flipped open Lidia's book and saw that the recipe was titled "Linguine with Bacon and Onions" I just about fell over from the shock. Could it really be that simple?
Apparently, yes. All you need is bacon, onions, a long pasta of your choice, egg yolks, chicken stock, freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese (I always use Pecorino Romano because that's what we buy as our grating cheese).
Linguine with Bacon and Onions (courtesy of Lidia)
6 ounces bacon
2 large yellow onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick (about 3 cups)
1-1/2 cups hot chicken stock or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth, or as needed
1 pound linguine
3 egg yolks
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Coarsely ground black pepper
Bring 6 quarts of salted water to the boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.
Cut the bacon into 1/4-inch strips. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until the bacon is lightly browned but still soft in the center, about 6 minutes.
The amount of fat in the skillet will vary depending on the bacon. If there is more than 3 to 4 tablespoons of fat in the pan, pour off the excess. If there is less than 3 to 4 tablespoons, add enough olive oil to measure that amount. Add the onions and cook until wilted but still crunchy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil, and adjust the heat to a lively simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced by about half.
Meanwhile, stir the linguine into the boiling salted water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, about 8 minutes.
Ladle off about a cup of the pasta-cooking water. If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt if necessary. If necessary, add as much chicken stock or pasta-cooking water as needed to make enough sauce to coat the pasta generously.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg yolks one at a time, tossing well after each. Add the grated cheese, then the black pepper, tossing well, and serve immediately in warmed bowls.