Friday, August 1, 2008

Fettuccine alla Carbonara

This might just be the perfect weeknight meal.

Have you ever thought to yourself, "wouldn't it be awesome if there was a combination of scrambled eggs and macaroni and cheese that also contained ham and only took about half an hour to make?" Then this is the recipe for you! It's incredibly simple and deeply satisfying. Make this and a simple vegetable side and you'll be full for hours and possibly even ready to run a marathon.

My version is fairly close to the original Italian style, but with more locally available ingredients. Instead of pancetta I used diced ham, and instead of romano cheese I used sharp white cheddar. Some recipes complicate things by adding peas or parsley, but really it's supposed to just be noodles, eggs, cheese, black pepper, and a little ham (you could even use leftover roast fowl instead). I'm an overachiever, so I made my pasta from scratch, but this is still totally delicious with boxed noodles.

You must remember to reserve some of the pasta boiling water. This is useful in a number of recipes and the way I do it is to put a cup in the colander when I'm setting up so that when I pour out the noodles I can't help but see the cup and remember to fill it.

1 lb. fettuccine
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 c. diced pancetta, ham, or thick bacon
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
3/4 c. grated parmesan
1/4 c. grated romano or white cheddar
lots of salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 c. pasta boiling water

Set a large pot of water on to boil and salt it well. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry your pork product of choice until crispy, reserving any drippings for later. Beat the eggs well with some salt and pepper.

Boil the noodles until al dente and reserve 1 c. of the water you boiled them in. Drain the noodles and quickly return them to the pot they were boiled in. Add the eggs and toss with the noodles to combine well. The heat of the noodles will cook the eggs. Quickly toss in the cheese, ham, ham drippings, and several grinds of black pepper. If you need to loosen the noodles up a bit while tossing, add some of the water from boiling a couple of tablespooons at a time (you won't need a full cup). Ta da! It's very rich, so don't heap too much on your plate unless you're famished.

Bonus pasta-making photo.

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