Like all my cooking efforts, and from time to time to the detriment of those who eat my cooking efforts, this recipe is an amalgam of recipes. When I want to make something, I look up a bunch of recipes, and pick the things I like about them, and then try it out. Which is how I made the best spaghetti carbonara ever, and also how I made raspberry white chocolate scones that had the exact texture of hardened Gak. If you’re reading this, and you were a kid in the 90’s, you know what that is.
1 lb spaghetti or linguine
4 eggs, ROOM TEMPERATURE
1 lb bacon, the better quality the better, thick cut pancetta would be just fine
5 or so cloves of garlic, if you like garlic, use more, maybe 8 or so cloves
1 big onion, chopped finely
1-2 cups white wine, a kind good enough to drink
1/4 cup or so heavy cream, ROOM TEMPERATURE
2 cups or more parmesan cheese, best to use cheese you’ve grated yourself, it melts better into the sauce
a whole mess of chopped flat leaf parsley
cracked black pepper
Cut up the bacon and fry it up in a pan. I use kitchen scissors, it’s the easiest way. (This is also a good time to get a big pot of salted water a-boiling for the pasta.) Take your time with this, let the bacon get crispy without burning. This note is important for me, as I occasionally rush things in the kitchen. When the bacon is good and crispy, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and put it on a plate covered in paper towel, and set aside. Put the chopped onion and garlic in the bacon fat and let it caramelize awhile. It’s best if the onions get translucent to lightly browned. While the onions and garlic are browning is a good time to put the pasta in the boiling, salted water. When the onions and garlic look suitably transparent-ish, douse the whole thing with the white wine, and put in a few turns of cracked pepper too.
While that cooks down, crack the eggs into a bowl, mix them up, add the room temperature cream and the cheese, and whisk it until smooth. This mixture shouldn’t be cold, and I cannot stress this enough. The key to getting this recipe perfectly silky and to NOT accidentally scrambling the eggs is keeping everything at more or less the same temperature. (In fact, you could do this awhile before you even start cooking, and set it on the counter to get warmer.)
Take the pasta off the heat and drain it, when it’s al dente (at this point, also turn off the onions-garlic-wine mixture, and move it off the hot burner). It seems silly to note this, but al dente means just a bit under done. You don’t want weenie, oversoft pasta, so take it off the heat and drain it when it’s a minute or two from being fully done. When it’s in the colander, something else I do is is run some cool water over it. I don’t want the pasta cold, but it works better if you bring the pasta temperature down, so it’s not SUPER hot when you mix in the cheese-egg-cream mixture.
Next, drop the pasta into the wine-onions-garlic and move it around a bit. Touch a bit of it, it should be warm to hot-ish, but should be touchable. Next, mix in the egg-cheese-cream mixture, move this around a LOT. There are varying opinions on this step, but I plop it in all in one go, my thinking is that the more liquid, the less chance the temperature from the pasta has to scramble ALL those eggs. After that, mix in the bacon and the parsley, and serve it up.
This recipe makes a crap-ton of pasta, enough for 4 or so people, definitely. I’ll also tell you that it heats up a lot better than you’d think. The key things to making this perfectly, in my opinion, are:
1. Don’t rush things. Let the eggs-cream-cheese mixture come to room temperature.
2. Don’t be afraid of all the fat. This dish isn’t good for you, and that’s okay. You can eat a salad tomorrow.
3. If you think you can safely skip the parsley, because who cares about parsley, don’t. The parsley brightens up all the richness, and is REALLY pretty.