A friend studied abroad in Rome. She came back with tales of Italian adventures, a pair of gorgeous leather boots, and a love of pasta carbonara. But woe is her! She couldn’t find a decent carbonara in any stateside restaurant. One day I was watching the Cooking Channel and I saw one of my food idols, Nigella Lawson, whip up a gorgeous carbonara. I decided then that I would do my best to recreate my friend’s long lost Italian love, and this is that recipe. Simple but powerful, it’s a pasta experience good enough to satisfy a traveler’s nostalgia (hers) and even win over the pasta-ambivalent (yours truly).
12 oz. whole wheat spaghetti or other pasta
7 strips of bacon, cut into lardons
splash of stock or white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup English peas, cooked
Cook pasta until al dente. While the pasta cooks, brown bacon in a large pan. When browned but not crispy, remove bacon from pan and place on a paper towel to wick away fat.
Pour off some of the bacon grease, reserving about a teaspoon in the pan. Add garlic and shallot and cook until golden. Remove from pan and set aside.
Stir in wine or stock to deglaze.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, half and half, salt and pepper, and nutmeg.
Drain the al dente pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Over medium heat, add hot pasta to the deglazed pan, and pour in half of the egg mixture to create a sauce. Stir constantly. Sauce will become thick as you stir.
Add the bacon, garlic, shallots, and peas, and then pour in the rest of the egg mixture and continue to stir.
Add a splash or two of the pasta liquid to reach desired sauce consistency. Remove from heat. Season with more pepper, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve. Prego!