My curiosity for restaurants started when I was in my early twenties. As soon as I started earning enough money and could afford eating out in good places. I had a good friend then, Avi, with a similar interest in food and together we explored the big city’s best bakeries, cafes, and restaurants.
He was the first one who believed way back then that I should go to culinary school. I thought that I want to study psychology. The rest is history.
But I could never forget eating my first pasta alla carbonara.
We were at a nice Italian restaurant having lunch and I ordered this dish. It sounded good. Something new. I was totally surprised to receive a plate of hot pasta with half an egg shell with raw yolk in it placed the middle of the plate. It was a very simple dish with a heavenly delicate creamy sauce.
I wish I had a photo with better presentation for you, but in my current life I had to make some changes in the recipe as raw eggs are not recommended to little kids, and I assumed that some of you might feel ambiguous about eating uncooked eggs as well.
So use your imagination and visualize… an egg shell with a yellowy-orange yolk nestled in the middle of a little pasta mountain and some grated parmesan all around. Looks lovely, isn’t it?
And the winner of the “real food” book is Catherine from The Unconfidential Cook blog. Yay!!!
I was looking for a simple and authentic recipe, so I turned to Mario Batali, of course. As with all simple dishes with only a few ingredients, use the best you can find. Use real good bacon and real Parmigiano-Reggiano and don’t buy the pre-grated one (grate it yourself).
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Adapted from a recipe by Mario Batali from his Molto Italiano cookbook
Makes 4 servings
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-8 oz. pancetta or good bacon
1/2 pound dry spaghetti
1 cup fresh real Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated + 1/2 cup for serving (optional)
2-4 eggs, separated*
Black pepper, freshly ground
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 3 tablespoons salt.
Place bacon on baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until bacon is browned and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool a bit. Crumble the bacon to pieces. Reserve the fat and set aside.
When the water boils, cook the spaghetti, until tender, yet al dente, according to instructions on the package. Drain the spaghetti but reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Using the now empty pasta pot, put bacon and fat and warm them over medium heat, then add the pasta, grated cheese, egg whites (* I did not separate the eggs. I used 2 eggs, lightly beaten, and just mixed it right away into the hot pasta – this cooks the eggs a little. But you can use only egg whites at this stage, and add the yolks later before serving) and black pepper and toss well, until warmed through, about 2 minutes.
Divide the pasta among 4 serving bowls. Season with more freshly ground black pepper and additional cheese over the top. Serve immediately.
*If using separated eggs, make a nest in the center for the egg yolk. Gently drop an egg yolk into each egg shell or directly on top of the pasta.