It's a Keeper: Bacon and Egg Coal Miner's Pasta, Rigatoni alla Carbonara

As I was surfing Rachael Ray posts recently, I ran across one that criticized Rachael for using cream in her Carbonara. I thought to myself - wait, I don't remember that. So, I dived into the Food Network recipe archive and found her recipe for Bacon and Egg Coal Miner's Pasta: Rigatoni alla Carbonara and there is no cream in sight! To be fair, there's a chance she used cream in another version of this dish (since she's done at least one other version of it, I think), but there's certainly none in this version.

Carbonara is one of my favorite comfort foods. When I was a kid, my mom used to make it every now and then and it was always a major treat. When we went to Italy last year, I made sure to order it so I could try the real thing. Rachael's version comes as close as I've ever found (since I have no idea what recipe my mom used).

So, pair this up with the salad from the same recipe and you have a comfort food extravaganza. Perfect for a cold night and quick enough for a late night snack! I also made the Arugula Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette and Crostini and it was a keeper, too. I'd make extra crostini next time for snacking! This recipe also reminded me that time spent making your own salad dressing is time well spent.
Here's the carbonara recipe with my comments in brackets:

1 pound rigatoni [I used whole wheat penne, but whole wheat spaghetti is what she uses in other versions of this recipe]
1/3 pound pancetta, cured Italian meat, available at deli counter, chopped [In my store, it's in the case right next to the deli counter, where they keep specialty meats]
Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan)
4 or 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, a few pinches, crushed in palm of hand
1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock
2 large egg yolks [Here's a tutorial on how to seperate the white from the yolk]
3 tablespoons (about 2 palmfuls) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more, for sprinkling [Don't buy the cheap stuff! Get the Parmigiano Reggiano instead of regular parmesean cheese, it's worth it]
A handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
A few grinds black pepper

Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When water is rolling, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente, about 8 minutes, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.

While pasta cooks, heat large skillet over moderate heat. Saute pancetta in a drizzle of oil until it browns, 3 to 5 minutes. Add extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and crushed pepper flake. Saute garlic 2 minutes. Add wine or stock to the pan and reduce liquid by half, 2 minutes.

Beat together egg yolks, cheese [this resulted in more of a paste for me], and while whisking vigorously, stir in a ladle of the boiling pasta water. [Putting the pasta water in tempers the egg, so you don't end up with scrambled eggs in your sauce.] Beat in parsley and pepper and set aside.

Drain pasta. Add pasta to pan with sauce. Toss pasta with pancetta, then add egg mixture and toss 1 minute, then remove from heat. Continue to toss until sauce is absorbed by and thickly coating the pasta. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and serve with extra cheese, for passing.

Two more pics:


  1. I've made this recipe on several occasions- and it's the closest I've ever had to carbonara made at a restaurant in Little Italy (NYC) that I love.

    Good stuff!

    Glad you enjoyed it!

    BTW, I really think this blog is great!

  2. Thanks, Andie! It really is outstanding. I'm still trying to hunt down my Mom's recipe though.


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