Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara
from The Silver Spoon, published by Phaidon.

A.K.A. "The bible of authentic Italian Cooking" and "Italy's best-selling cookbook for over fifty years."

First published in 1950, Il cucchiaio d'argento was conceived by Editorale Domus, publisher of Domus, the Italian design and architectural magazine. Editorale commisssioned experts to compile hundreds of recipes to showcase every regional specialty.

A bible it is. Over 1200 pages, including the index. Up to this point I have used it as a reference for flavor profiles and dishes I've never heard of. I sit there while watching TV, thumb through the vegetable and veal sections, and I dream away.

Spaghetti Carbonara is a dish I have heard of all my life, but never had the pleasure to make. It's listed on page 300, next to Spaghetti Amatriciana, which is a variation on the pancetta base, but uses fresh tomato and fresh chile to give it a clean kick. There's another variation I saw online in which you use cream and shallots along with the pancetta, butter and cheese. My mind drools every time I think about eating it. D'accordo, here's the recipe:


2 tbsp butter
generous 1/2 c pancetta, diced
1 garlic clove
12 oz spaghetti
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 c Romano cheese, freshly grated
salt and pepper


Melt the butter in a pan, add the pancetta and garlic and cook until the garlic turns brown. Remove and discard the garlic. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of salted, boiling water until al dente, then drain and add to the pancetta. Remove the pan from the heat, pour in the eggs, add half the Parmesan and half the romano and season with pepper. Mix well so that the egg coats the pasta. Add the remaining cheese, mix again and serve.

ACTs-anecdotes, comments, thoughts
C and I went to Vicente Foods, a fresher market store than most. It also has a pharmacy attached, which features natural and homeopathic remedies. (Didn't smell like pills as we walked past!) We went to the meat counter to get some sliced pancetta. We got a 1/2 lb sliced medium. The meat and fish selection was thorough, also accomodating to Jewish cuisine as well.

By adding the garlic and then removing it, the result is a warmer flavor, and a tasty fried garlic clove. We sliced it in half and ate it up! I was afraid of adding too much of the egg too quickly, because then it would curdle, but by the time we got to it the pasta had cooled down enough, so in the end I gave my portion a quick zap to eat it hot. The result? Rich, buttery, cheesy, and even better with some red pepper flakes and a couple Rosso beers. Assolutamente delizioso!

Perhaps the difficulty in the book is that the directions do not include the prep work. We read the recipe a few times, and relied on our inner cooks to know when to grate the cheese, chop the pancetta, beat the eggs, etc. While technically for this recipe all of it could be done prior to cooking because the recipe is so simple, I predict that for more complicated dishes it could be an issue. There are literally thousands of recipes in The Silver Spoon, so I look forward to the multitude of ways for me to hone in on my inner Italian mother.

Next...Grilled Veggie and Potsticker Stir Fry!

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