Carbonara is a classic of the comfort food category. It's good food for a cold winter day. Melted cheese, bacon, eggs, and pasta. What could be better?
Spaghetti à la carbonara made with French lardons and French fromages
The first step in making spaghetti à la carbonara like this is to brown some lardons or bacon or ham. Walt and I like French smoked pork lardons, but you could also use pancetta, which is Italian salt-cured pork. Then, separately, cook the pasta in a big pot of boiling water, and grate up some cheese.
When the pasta is cooked, spoon it out of the pot (using a pasta dipper) rather than draining it into a colander, so that you don't lose the hot cooking water. Drop the cooked pasta into the pan with the bacon (first remove some of the fat if you think it's too much) and gradually spoon in some of the cooking liquid to loosen up the pasta, moisten the meat, and deglaze the pan.
While it's all still very hot — keep the pan on low heat — put in a cup or so of grated cheese. Parmesan is the classic, with maybe some Perorino Romano added. For my French version, I used a mixture of Comté (a Swiss-style cheese) and Cantal (more like white Cheddar) and we served grated Parmesan at the table.
Stir in the cheese, adding more of the boiling liquid to make a smooth cheese sauce. Then, off the heat, drop in two raw eggs (or just egg yolks if you prefer) and stir everything together so that the egg cooks in the hot pasta and sauce but, if you're lucky, without scrambling. That's the delicate part of the operation, and it can take some practice.
Even if the egg scrambles slightly, it's no big deal and the carbonara is still delicious. Don't forget the fresh-ground black pepper.
Walt was keeping Callie busy in the living room while all this was going on. Then we enjoyed the spaghetti à la carbonara with good bread, red wine, and a green salad.