Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Birthday!

Yesterday was my birthday and it couldn't have been any nicer. Unlike some folks, I love my birthday and cherish each one as a kind of a mile marker in life. I truly celebrate the fact that I am alive, healthy, happy and fortunate. My wonderful husband took me to a sweet, quiet Provencal restaurant for a very civilized and relaxed lunch. Being that I have been taking care of him through his physically challenging time these last few months, it was pure heaven to be served and catered to by a waiter! Oh, the simple pleasures in life. The food highlight, however, came at dinner when Antonio rallied enough strength to fix me my favorite pasta - Spaghetti Carbonara. While I feel that this is more of a hearty, fall/winter dish, I can personally indulge in its decadence any day of the year! I thought I would share our recipe for this traditional Roman dish. Oh, and I can't forget to share my opinion on a wine pairing. A hearty rose' or a traditional, light Italian red wine like a simple Chianti or Dolcetto work really nicely with this pasta. Buon appetito!

Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 2

½ cup of pancetta chopped (if pancetta is unavailable use 3 slices of natural, uncured, unflavored bacon)
Generous 1/2 cup chopped prosciutto (prosciutto ends* are the easiest to chop)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cup finely and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano**
½ lb. spaghetti

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a generous amount of salt. When boiling add pasta and cook until al dente.

While the spaghetti is cooking sauté the bacon or pancetta and prosciutto in the olive oil until cooked. They should still be soft and not overcooked.

In a large serving bowl (which you will use to serve the pasta) beat the egg and egg yolk with generous amounts of black pepper. Stir in the cheese. Add 1 Tbsp of the boiling pasta water and blend.

Drain the pasta (reserving a bit more of the water in case it is needed.) Quickly add the pasta and the bacon and prosciutto with their fat to the bowl with the eggs. Toss it all until the spaghetti is well coated. Add a little more of the pasta water if the pasta appears too dry.

Add extra cheese and pepper at the table if desired.

*Prosciutto ends are readily available in some gourmet markets and are more thickly sliced than prosciutto, making it easier to chop.

**Romans insist this recipe should be made with Pecorino Romano, but many people make it with parmigiano, including us, and thoroughly enjoy it.

Notes: If you are going to make this recipe for more people, add an egg yolk per person, not a whole egg. It's best to use organic eggs as their flavor is so far superior to the others. You can also substitute guanciale for the bacon or pancetta.

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