when i was young i would often come across my mom reading cookbooks, sitting on the couch or on the bed with several spread out in front of her. i remember especially her copy of James Beard On Bread, and a cookbook devoted to chocolate desserts that really struck me with the cover photo. an odd gelatin-like dessert, displayed between the other cakes, cookies and truffles; smooth and shiny and kind of a light-brown, pinkish color. (i knew i would never eat that!) my mom’s cookbook-reading kind of fascinated me… we were big on books in our family (every friday was library day for these homeschoolers), but i didn’t quite get how she could be so interested in books with no stories. no pictures, even!
i have come to love reading cookbooks and magazines, too. (though they must have photographs. a lot of photographs.) its not a storybook, but i can read and imagine what people will think, what we will be talking about, where we will be when we’re eating that dish together. i love my food magazine subscriptions, smart recipe blogs, pinterest.com, my cookbook collection, the cookbook section at the library….. oh i love reading recipes. when i have an occasion coming up that i’ll be cooking for, it’s almost an agonizing process to narrow it down and decide what dish i’ll make. a process i love! i get really excited about menu planning and i get pumped to try new dishes, new techniques. just to see if i can.
but what i realize more and more is that there are too many amazing recipes in the world! — even if i cooked one every single night for dinner for the rest of my life i would never get to try them all! seriously?
this, like my iPod, makes me really sad. there is so much good food (or music) to try, and to fall in love with in my lifetime. i’ll never be able to do it all. overwhelming.
despite this realization… i make the same dishes repeatedly for dinner if they’re great. of course i do! (especially if my husband requests them.) so i thought i would share one of the classics… not a new idea by any means, but a dish that is easily mastered; beginning with simple, humble ingredients, that together are kind of an elegant, cultured bacon and eggs in dinner form. and it is delicious. super creamy, a little garlic kick, crunchy bacon?! it is a beautiful way to treat humble spaghetti noodles, and it tastes like you worked hard making it, even though you don’t. this is a dish i will repeat even more times in the future, no matter the sacrifice of new-recipes-un-taste-tested.
(so this possibly may not be the most healthful dinner out there (ha). i was kind of surprised to find the recipe did not direct draining the drippings from the bacon… then to add a quarter cup of olive oil on top of that. i felt that was unnecessary; as much as i trust everything America’s Test Kitchen says. so, go for a good family walk afterwards perhaps. it’s worth it!)
spaghetti carbonaraadapted from America’s Test Kitchen serves 4
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup parmesan, grated
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1/2 lb bacon (about 8 slices) snipped into small pieces with kitchen shears, or chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 lb spaghetti
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs and then combine with grated cheese and garlic. Set aside at room temperature.
- Get a large skillet heating over medium-high and cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Fight your instincts and don’t drain off the drippings. Pour in the white wine (carefully, it may spatter) and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Cook spaghetti in a large pot until almost-al-dente but not quite. You want a little bite left because it won’t end it’s cooking journey here. Grab a measuring-cup full of pasta water to set aside, then drain the pasta, leaving it a little wet. Quickly add the spaghetti to the large skillet with awaiting bacon/wine. Stir to combine.
- Add the egg/cheese/garlic mixture one dollop at a time, tossing well between each addition(a pair of tongs works wonders here) (incorporating the room-temperature eggs, slowly, prevents them from curdling at high heat). Add pasta water a few tablespoons at a time, tossing in between, to make a smooth sauce.
leftovers rating: B-
i halved this recipe for my husband and myself and there were nooooo leftovers. i remember though, that the last time i made this i thoroughly enjoyed eating the cold leftovers. in the middle of the night, standing in front of the fridge in my socks. i’m kidding — i ate them for breakfast. the leftovers will turn into a solid cake of noodles and cold sauce, which i found delightful to cut into with a fork. i can’t speak for re-heating.