Friday, January 8, 2016

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon and Mushrooms

Carbonara . . you know the one..'s on every Italian menu but no one ever really knows what the sauce is made of . . .is it creamy?  Is it cheesy?  Well, I'm here to help you with that today.  This dish is incredibly amazing.  Carbonara pasta sauce is actually egg . . .yes, you read it right:  EGG.  Don't let it scare you . . .it will turn out very velvety and when you add the bacon and mushrooms - oooo la la!  Faaaaaaaaancy!  You mouth and stomach will thank you!

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon & Mushrooms
Serves 4

1 Pound Bacon
1 Pound Mushrooms, Sliced
6 Garlic Cloves
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 Cup White Wine
8 oz Pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
Black Pepper (optional)
Parmesan (optional)

Step 1:  Cube the bacon into small bits.  In a large fry pan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat.  Do not rush this - you want it to render the fat. 

Step 2:  While the bacon is frying, fill a large pot with water (for the pasta) and bring to a boil.  Cook the pasta as directed on the instructions, but do not toss the water!  You will need some of the pasta water for the sauce.  I recommend reserving about 2 cups worth of water.

Step 3:  Once the bacon is nice and crispy, drain it on a cookie sheet lined with several paper towels.  Before dumping it on the cookie sheet though, reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease.  

Step 4:  In the same fry pan you used for the bacon, add the mushrooms and garlic along with the reserved bacon grease.  Add the wine and cook the mushrooms until soft.  Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to collect any of those tasty bits of bacon that may have stuck to the bottom!  Once the mushrooms are softened - add the bacon back to the pan and turn off the heat (burner).  

Step 5:  
Once your pasta is cooked and some water is reserved and the pasta is drained . . . it's time to temper your egg yolks!  In a bowl or large measuring cup, beat the egg yolks with a fork until broken up and a bit frothy.   Add a tablespoon of the still-hot pasta water to the yolks and beat with a whisk or fork until fully incorporated.  Repeat this a few times, until the egg yolks are warm and not too thick.

Step 6:  Add the drained pasta to the bacon/mushroom mixture and then pour the tempered egg yolks on top.  Mix or toss thoroughly.  The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs leaving you with a very velvety sauce.  If it seems too thick, add a little more water and toss until your desired consistency.  Remember, carbonara is not a sloppy sauce - it is something that should stick to the pasta, but not leave a puddle at the bottom of the dish or pan!

Step 7:  To serve, sprinkle with black pepper and Parmesan.  Enjoy!

Note:  If you are unfamiliar with how to temper eggs (or egg yolks as in this recipe) - here is a good explanation.

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