Saturday, March 8, 2008

Comfort Food, Italian Style

March 8, 2008

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is an Italian specialty of uncertain origin and certain soothing properties. What could be more comforting than spaghetti with eggs and bacon in it?

It's easy and exciting to make too. Exciting because it's hard to believe the pasta will cook the eggs, but it always works. I've seen several recipes for this, some using cream, some white wine, some with garlic or onions, but my original comes from The Romagnolis' Table, based on the old PBS series, and it has none of those things. (Did I ever tell you I learned to cook by watching PBS?) The Romagnolis' book came out before pancetta was widely used in this country, so they substituted salt pork. Go ahead and use pancetta.

Chop up 4 oz. of pancetta and sauté it gently in a few tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. Crack three eggs onto a warm serving platter and beat until foamy. Grind some fresh pepper into the pancetta and into the eggs.

Cook your pasta -- about 1 1/2 lbs. in about 6 quarts of water with 6 tsps. salt -- until it's just al dente. Drain it fast and reserve a little water in case you need it later. Pour the drained pasta into the eggs and toss well until the pasta is coated with eggs. Add the pancetta-olive oil mixture. Grate Pargianno Reggiano cheese on top and add more pepper if desired.

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