Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Because Sometimes You Just Need a Little Comfort

I was going to write a cheeky intro to this post that I started this weekend about my favorite meal - the ultimate comfort food. But the last seven days have been a doozy; the kind of week where you just need, well, some comfort. Among other work and personal stresses, Fletcher is a very sick puppy. He has more blood work today and tomorrow and then we are potentially headed off to UGA later this week for more testing. Needless to say, I don't feel very cheeky right now. Hugh, in the way that only he can, has assured me that everything is going to be just fine. So I'll be back soon. In the meantime, please send some happy little dog thoughts our way, sit tight, and enjoy:

When Hugh first made Spaghetti Carbonara about three years ago, I loved it. And then he kept making it, and it kept getting better. And better. Until I loved it so much that I started requesting it once a week. And then Hugh got sick of it. So sick of it that he actually won't eat it anymore. When he makes it for me he will usually scrounge up something else to eat. I, however, can still eat it three times a week. I don't, because I like being able to button my pants, but I could.

This recipe was initially from GQ, but Hugh has adapted it enough along the way that I feel confident in calling it our own. This is best eating from a bowl in your lap, on the couch, whilst wearing your pjs, and drinking a glass of wine. Note: this is not health food. It's why I eat salad for lunch.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 2

8oz dried spaghetti
1 teaspoon olive oil
6oz bacon or pancetta, chopped into 1/2" pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs (the fresher the better)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
fresh-cracked black pepper

This recipe is really simple, but the timing is important. You want to have your bacon and garlic mixture finished at or before the time the pasta is done.

Crack eggs in a medium metal bowl, beat lightly. Mix in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and a few turns from the pepper grinder.

Cook spaghetti in salted water according to package directions until al dente.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add bacon/pancetta, cooking to render fat and crisp bacon/pancetta, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cook one minute, stirring frequently. If the garlic starts to brown, remove pan from heat. After one minute, remove pan from heat. Your pasta should be just about ready.

When pasta is finished, drain and immediately add pasta to the bowl with the egg and cheese mixture. Let sit for exactly one minute. Toss pasta and egg mixture very thoroughly using two forks. The idea here is that the eggs, while not really cooked, will mix with the hot pasta and make a silky sauce, and you want that coating every single strand. Once pasta is thoroughly combined with egg mixture, add bacon and garlic mixture and about half of the bacon drippings that have accumulated in the pan. Add about 1/2 cup additional Parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly using two forks.

Taste for seasoning. I usually find a little more salt is necessary at this point, but that's just me and my super low blood pressure talking.

Transfer half of pasta mixture to another bowl. Give the metal bowl to the most deserving eater, as this bowl always tastes better for some reason.



A. This recipe contains raw egg. Hugh and I like living on the edge, so this is a non-issue for us. The egg gets cooked a little bit by the heat of the pasta, but if you are the kind of person who freaks out about things like this, you probably shouldn't eat it. Bummer for you. Also, if you are pregnant, nursing, or immuno-compromised, you might want to pass. Bummer for you. When we start discussing whether or not it's time to expand our family, not being able to eat Carbonara is a legitimate "con" in the procreation discussion for me. What can I say? I really love this recipe.

B. You might have noticed in the photo above that there is an extra yolk in the finished bowl of Carbonara. This is done for two reasons:
1. The best restaurant ever does this. When we went there for Hugh's birthday and I ordered this, I literally cried because it was so good. And then I did not share one single bite with the birthday boy.
2. Hugh was improvising to make this recipe for one and he added way too much pasta, so I needed some more sauciness.
If you want to add the extra yolk, separate two additional eggs and put the yolks in small bowls. After you finish the recipe, taste for seasoning, and separate meal into two bowls, dump one yolk onto each mound of pasta. Each person can then toss their yolk around with their pasta before they eat. It's a fun presentation and it makes the pasta even better. Seriously, you will die from sheer satisfaction. Don't say I didn't warn you.


  1. Two things.

    First, we're all thinking of little Fletchy and sending happy thoughts his way. Mitch is absolutely distraught just thinking about it.

    Second, this meal is out of control delicious, and I would like to eat a bowl of it right now. Right. Now.

  2. Two more things.

    This page is bookmarked on our computer.

    I mean, how happy are we that Fletcharoon is healthy!?

    We will be eating this tonight, and per your blog demands, I will be eating it on the couch, in my PJ's, while drinking a glass of wine.

    I will not, however, be adding an extra yolk to mine, because I don't coat my pasta in poison slime, thankyouverymuch.

    That was way more than two things.

    We're moving into your guest house. You have a guest house, right?