“Begin with Bacon” should be the rallying cry for recipes, as everyone knows, everything is better with bacon. Some recipes use bacon as a garnish, other recipes feature bacon as the star of the show. This recipe begins with bacon, but rather than sliced strips of bacon, a portion from a slab of bacon is used in order to cut small cubes, or lardons, that render the fat while cooking, but don’t become crispy.
Once the fat is rendered you remove the cubes and then add them back when you quickly toss the cooked spaghetti in the warm bacon fat near the end of the recipe. Although the recipe is simple, it is unusual in that you don’t cook the egg before adding it to the cooked pasta. If this step is not done properly you end up with bits of scrambled egg in your pasta. And if it is done properly, you end up with a delicious creamy coating on all your pasta. The raw egg can only cook properly with a pasta shape that has a sufficiently large ratio of surface area to volume, such as spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.
Bacon Based Spaghetti Carbonara
salt & coarsely ground black pepper
2 eggs plus two additional egg yolks, room temperature
'Fill the serving bowl to be used with hot water, to warm the bowl, and set aside.
Cut enough of the slab off to fill 1/2 cup with 1/4 inch lardon (cubes of bacon)
Whisk together the room termperature eggs and additional egg yolks and the grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses. Season with a pinch of salt and plenty of coarsely ground black pepper.
Fill a large pot with water, add two tsp salt and set on the stove to boil.
Place the lardons in a frypan and heat until they render fat and are slightly browned, but not crispy, then remove from pan and set aside.
Once your salted water is boiling add the 3/4# pasta and cook until almost al dente. (To achieve almost al dente, reduce the cooking time as directed on the package by 30 to 60 seconds.)
When the pasta is cooked, turn the heat back on for the frypan and reheat the bacon fat as you are straining the pasta. Once well strained carefully add the pasta to the hot bacon fat in the large frypan as well as the cooked reserved lardons and mix well.
Empty the water from the serving dish and dry it.
Add the pasta from the fry pan to the serving dish. (Now comes the make or break moment, as in scrambled eggs or rich and creamy sauce moment.) Add the egg and cheese mixture to the pasta in the serving dish while the pasta is hot but NOT steaming. Toss all of the pasta with the egg cheese mixture until well incorporated and the cheese is melted.
Top with freshly grated Parmesan and or Romano cheese. Adding some Italian seasonings (rosemary, basil & thyme), warm petite peas or button mushrooms can add some additional color and flavor to this recipe.