I can hardly believe it, but it’s true: I had never eaten pasta carbonara before this week. Shocking, I know. And I might not have gotten around to it, if I hadn’t seen this amazing post. Jennifer’s carbonara was full of delicious local eggs, plus she had some wonderful looking pork jowl to work with; mine was a little more subdued but still very successful.
We had come home from a wine tasting at our local shop, and were feverishly trying to think what we could cook with what was on hand. We had two eggs left in the fridge, a fresh pack of Hempler’s bacon, some parmesan cheese in the freezer, and some random boxes of Barilla pasta – and I already had carbonara on the brain from the aforementioned blog post. It seemed worth a try.
While the water for the pasta was heating, I broke the two eggs into a big mixing bowl and microplaned the parmesan directly on top. I sauteed chopped-up bacon in a little olive oil until it was good and crispy and the fat was rendered out. The cooked, steaming-hot pasta (we didn’t have any long pasta, so I used penne) was added directly to the egg and cheese and mixed thoroughly, then the bacon and its hot fat was poured over and mixed in. I sprinkled in a little parsley, ground in plenty of black pepper and it was finished!
In the meantime, Jon had sliced a bulb of fennel paper-thin. I tossed it with some salad greens left over from earlier in the week and a quick vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
The pasta wasn’t nearly as deadly-rich as I feared; instead, it had a warm, creamy, bacony flavor and light texture that was pure pleasure. The fennel salad provided just the right acidity and bite to contrast with the carbonara. This may just be the perfect dinner-in-a-hurry for our repertoire.