Tonight's Dinner: Spaghetti alla carbonara
You've heard of Alfredo, Bolognese and marinara sauces, but have you ever had a sauce that has neither cream nor tomatoes in it? Who knew all you needed was a little cheese, some bacon grease and egg whites to make a wonderfully rich pasta sauce?
Spaghetti is one of those wonderful pasta dishes that everyone loves. It doesn't matter if you're six or 60, there's just something about a warm bowl of pasta that makes people stand up and beg for more. I thought I'd had all the different sauces out there from pesto, to marinara, to Alfredo, but it turns out there was at least one I'd never heard of, let alone tried.
Mario Batali talked about a spaghetti dish on The Chew that he makes when he's feeling homesick for Italy. He said it was easy, delicious and a true Italian classic. It's Spaghetti alla Carbonbara and what intrigued me about the dish was that not a single tomato or ounce or cream was used to create the sauce. Batali only used bacon grease, Parmesan cheese and a few egg whites. I didn't think the dish was going to be very tasty because if there's one thing I love about spaghetti, it's the thick sauces that always accompany a good pasta. But I couldn't have been more wrong. The sauce was easy, light and oh, so good.
Spaghetti alla carbonara
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces bacon
- 1 pound of spaghetti
- 1-1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, separated
- 4 large eggs, separated
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Cook the spaghetti according to package directions; drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the water, and set aside.
- While the spaghetti cooks, combine the olive oil and bacon in a large sauté pan over medium heat, and cook until the bacon is crispy. Remove from the heat and set aside. Do not drain the fat.
- Add the reserved pasta water to the pan with the bacon, then toss in the pasta and heat for one minute. Remove from the heat and add one cup of cheese, the egg whites and the pepper and toss until thoroughly mixed.
- Divide the pasta among four serving bowls. Make a nest in the center of each one, and gently drop in the egg yolk. Season the yolks with a little more pepper and the rest of the cheese. Serve immediately.