Spaghetti Carbonara: Their Pic, My Pic

I was leafing through one of the final issues of Gourmet and spotted this recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara. What caught my eye was that atop its mound of pasta was a poached egg. I am not good at poaching, but since I am temporarily in possession of a machine that can make a perfect 148ºF egg, I was like, “Let’s do this thing.” At left, you can see Gourmet took a pretty picture, but mine may actually be better–both the shot and the food:

I’m gonna just call it: My picture is a lot more becoming. Something about sheen of the yolk? Or maybe it’s just my warmer white balance. (I don’t really see carbonara as a light-of-day dish; more of a midnight supper–theirs looks almost sunbleached.) Whatever I got right, I do know that looking at the pic, I definitely want to eat it again and again.

Speaking of which, it really did taste amazing, way better than Gourmet’s would’ve, had I stuck to their recipe. They say to fry bacon then add butter, tossing the spaghetti over heat with pepper, parm and parsley, then topping it with the poached egg and the fried bacon. Seems kind of bland to me, so I went a little further, playing Batali’s heat and citrus cards, and making sure onions and wine were properly represented. This is Italian cookery, for God’s sake! Here’s my recipe. Obviously this gets its jumping-off platform from Gourmet, so feel free to refer back to that if anything I say confuses or frightens you:

Everything you’ll need
2 portions of spaghetti
1/2 cup of spaghetti water
5 slices of deli-counter pancetta
1 Tbs butter
2 scallions, minced
1/2 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup of Microplaned parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedge (say a quarter of a lemon)
2 soft-boiled eggs (ideally cooked to a perfect 148º F)

Boil spaghetti in salty, olive-oily water, aiming for slightly underdone, say 8-10 minutes. As that’s happening, heat up a large sauté pan and fry up the 5 slices of pancetta like bacon until crispy. Bring heat to medium-low and remove the pancetta, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Stick in your butter, then your scallions and crushed red pepper. Cook until scallions are translucent, bring heat to medium-high and add the wine.

Once the wine is cooked down and integrated with the oils, throw in the cooked spaghetti, cheese and spaghetti water, and mixing and cooking that down until it’s milky and thick. There’s a lot going in, so keep your heat up. Once you think it’s ready, toss in the parsley, squeeze the lemon wedge over it all and stir well.

Dish up into two big bowls, gently crack open your soft-boiled eggs and let those babies just ooze out, break up the pancetta (or cut it with scissors) evenly between the two dishes–uhh, you don’t have to use it all if you don’t want–grind some pepper over those bitches, and get ready for some perfect TV-watching food. Seriously, carbonara was made for the couch, and you won’t want to move once you’re done, so make sure everything you need is right there within arm’s reach. You can hate yourself later.

3 responses to “Spaghetti Carbonara: Their Pic, My Pic

  1. so goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood

  2. Wow, the tone of your carbonara is so much warmer than that of the top pic. Wilson, all I can say is, Jenn is a LUCKY GIRL. And now I’m hungry.

  3. I usually throw some cream into carbonara (though I know the purists scoff at this), because I think it needs a little more sauce. However, I’m intrigued by the idea of using wine and lemon not only to add some more liquid but to boost the acidity as well. Thanks for the inspiring idea!

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