February 9, 2010

What's Cookin': Carbonara

I love pasta. Deep, passionate love. I would eat pasta every day if given the chance. And this recipe is one of my favorites. I got this from Rachel Ray's Classic 30-Minute Meals and have adjusted it to fit our family and budget. In the book she calls it "The only recipe you ever need." And I think I might have to agree with her. Incredibly easy and tasty, it's a good meal for special nights but quick enough for hurried ones.

Carbonara - makes 4 - 6 servings
1 lb rigatoni or penne pasta - .89
1/4 C olive oil - .66
1/4 lb bacon (3-4 slices) - .62
1 tsp garlic powder - .03
1 tsp red pepper flakes - .06
1/2 C dry white wine - 3.20
2 egg yolks - .28
1 C grated Parmesan cheese (the stuff from a block) -  .88
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt well. Cook pasta until done. Meanwhile add olive oil and bacon in large skillet and cook until just crispy. I know, it looks like a lot of grease and fat, but trust me. You need this for the sauce foundation. When the bacon is just about done add the garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Pour in the white wine and scrap up all the "tasty bits". Let reduce a little bit. Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl. Add about a 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water to the egg yolks to temper them. This is important - if you dump the egg yolks straight onto the pasta they will just cook as a scramble and you'll have chunks of egg yolk.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Pour bacon & wine mix over pasta and stir. Pour egg yolks in, add Parmesan and stir to coat everything. Salt & pepper to taste.

Total: 6.62

Notes & Variations: The original recipe calls for Pancetta, but I chose bacon for availability and price. Make sure you pick a wine that you like. It's an important flavor in this dish and that flavor will concentrate with cooking. I like Robert Mondavi Chardonnay. Use it in everything that calls for wine. It's not the cheapest at $20 a bottle, but it is a cheaper one and good for the price. Plus we don't drink it, just use it for cooking so it lasts longer. For the love of sheep, please don't use anything that says "Cooking wine". I've found them to be very salty and not very good tasting. 

If I had fresh garlic I would use that. 1 or 2 cloves should do, depending on how much you like garlic. You can also adjust the heat by adding more or less red pepper. I wound up using parm from a can last night because I realized half way through that I didn't have a chunk in the fridge. It really changed the taste. I would highly suggest using freshly shredded Parmesan if you can swing it. It was OK with the green can stuff though so if price is a factor then just use that.

Ben rating: 4. Whenever I tell Ben we're having Carbonara for dinner I get an "Ooooh. Good." out of him. I think it's the bacon. ;)


NetRaptor said...

Ooo, that sounds good. I need to invest in some cooking wine. Or, wine for cooking. :-)

Farm Girl said...

OR on a really bad day, just take a nip to even the day out. :)
It looks wonderful too.

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