Thursday, January 30, 2014

Comfort Food

Two weeks ago, we had a little competition in our kitchen for the best spaghetti carbonara. My husband has a recipe he's been making for years and one of our acquired daughters challenged him with her rendition (she, like me, is Italian-American.) It was a pig-out night. Here is Len Wein's recipe:

8-10 slices of bacon
4 regular Italian sausages (or 1/2 lb. sausage meat)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2-1cup Half-n-Half
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly ground nutmeg to taste

1 lb. uncooked spaghetti or linguini 
1 T. Salt
2 T. Oil
8 qts. Boiling water

Slice bacon into 1" pieces. In a large skillet, sauté until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet and set it aside on a plate. Squeeze the sausage from casings or use unencased sausage and sauté in bacon fat, breaking up the ground sausage as you cook. Sauté for about 10 minutes over medium-to-low heat until cooked through. Add garlic and sauté briefly. Return bacon to the skillet.

While sautéing the meat, cook the pasta according to package directions in the boiling water to which the salt and oil have been added until done. Drain spaghetti and return to empty pot. Toss with meat mixture & bacon grease until well coated. Make a well in the center of the pasta, break the eggs into it and quickly scramble the eggs and coat the pasta. Toss in the grated cheese. Add about half the Half-n-Half and mix over low heat. As the liquid is absorbed, add the remainder. Add black pepper & nutmeg. When the pasta is plated, sprinkle with more Parm.

There's room for plenty of variation. Olivia used more bacon, no sausage, and no cream. Tonight, we had no sausage, but there was a container of diced pancetta n the refrigerator, so we used that. Try to not burn the bacon. I prefer to use freshly grated imported Parm. Olivia used Parm and Romano, which added a nice salty taste.