Hear me out.
I may love eggs beyond all reason but even I’ve never stooped so low as to toss a raw one into a smoothie or anything nutty like that. Although I generally push through, sunny-side-up eggs cooked just a smidge short of congealed still give me the heeby jeebies. But who knew that when hot pasta, bacon, and cheese came together with raw eggs such a delightful surprise would be had?
The first time I made pasta carbonara at home I used a Tyler Florence recipe, mostly because I just think he’s neat and has a funny accent (Is he from the south? Is he from Scotland? IS HE DEAF?) Turns out he knows his way around pasta carbonara, which is actually deceptively simple. You only need a couple of ingredients to get this right but be sure you serve with a side salad and possibly some Tums. This is one of the richest pasta dishes you’re like to eat but it’s 100% completely and totally worth it.
And don’t worry, the hot pasta cooks the eggs so they’re not “technically” raw.
CLASSIC PASTA CARBONARA
original recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
1 lb. dry spaghetti
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4-5 strips of thick bacon, cut into chunks
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (use fresh, not that jarred stuff)
2 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (yes, you need to grate this yourself)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti then cook for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium then add the bacon, cooking and stirring about 3-4 minutes or until crisp. While the bacon’s cooking, combine the eggs and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.
***You want your spaghetti to be done at the same time as your sauce so the heat will cook the eggs. Cook the spaghetti for about 3-4 minutes before you start actually heating up the other ingredients. This is a recipe where it’s helpful to have everything out and measured before you start.
2. As the spaghetti is nearly finished, add the garlic to the bacon fat and cook for about 1 minute – be careful not to burn! Pour the contents of the pan into a very large bowl and use a metal or glass measuring cup (or a mug) to scoop about a cup of the pasta water out of the pot before you drain the noodles. Drain the noodles and immediately add the hot pasta to the bacon/garlic bowl.
3. Using tongs, mix up the pasta well for at least a minute, coating the pasta with the bacon fat and oil. Take out a few strands of the hot pasta with the tongs and add to your egg/Parmesan bowl to temper the eggs, ensuring they won’t scramble when you combine everything. Once that’s done, pour the egg and cheese mixture over the pasta and mix with the tongs. After a minute or two, add a little of the pasta water to thin out the sauce if you need to – this is all based on personal preference. Reserve your extra pasta water just in case you change your mind; some people like to add cream instead of the pasta water but c’mon, that’s just ridiculous. Sprinkle the pasta with a hearty dose of fresh-ground black pepper (you won’t need salt because of the Parmesan cheese) and serve immediately.
***I’m on my soapbox a lot about “whole,” “real” ingredients but this is truly one of those recipes where it makes the difference. Not only will your body thank you for not using all processed stuff, you’ll get fuller faster and this meal will be a delicious indulgence, not an exercise in portion control. Combining jarred chopped garlic, pre-shredded cheese, and bacon bits does not equal something better than each of those ingredients separately.