Affordable luxury is a term that usually meets with a very large eye roll from me. Dictators of style like Martha Stewart or Ina Garten will have us believe that if you don’t have five million thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, extra-virgin, first-press organic olive oil grown by Spanish centaurs, or face cream made with mermaid tears, you might as well just throw in the towel. Fashion magazines try to pass off $500 skirts as a great deal. It’s like we’re living in Wonderland. Nothing makes sense. Where are all the real people?
Carbonara can be expensive. If you buy fresh pasta, a wedge of imported, best quality parmigiano reggiano cheese, and imported pancetta, your bill at check out can quickly become astronomical. When you make that dish, it’s going to be outrageously spectacular, and if you can afford it, I strongly suggest you give it a try.
I have a secret to tell you. Martha’s head might explode. If you make carbonara with dried pasta, cheap parmesan cheese, and regular old bacon, it’s still going to be awesome. Like, “I never want to stop eating this” awesome. Add some heavy cream and some eggs to the mix, and you have one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. When you order this at a restaurant, it often contains peas, onions, or other vegetables. They ruin it for me, but if you’re into that sort of thing, by all means, veg it up.
I appreciate quality, but I’m not about to miss out on something delicious just because I can’t afford “the best” ingredients. Do the best you can with what you have. Also, put bacon in your pasta whenever you can. Duh.
- 1 pound dried linguine
- 8 slices bacon
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- Put a large pot of water on to boil. When it bubbles enthusiastically, add salt and drop your pasta. Be sure to give it a good stir a few times to be sure your noodles don't stick. Cook your pasta for one minute less than it says on the box. Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot.
- While you're waiting for your water to boil and your pasta to cook, cut your bacon into smaller pieces with your kitchen scissors. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat. When they become crisp, drain off most of the fat and return the pan to the stove.
- Add the wine to the bacon pan and let it simmer for five minutes or so. You're wanting to cook it down to form a winey, syrupy glaze on your bacon. Mmmmm.... wine bacon... When most of the liquid has evaporated, remove the pan from the heat.
- While your bacon and pasta are doing their thing on the stove, whisk together the remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
- Once your bacon and pasta are cooked, we can start bringing everything together. Scrape out all the bacon and syrupy bits from your frying pan into the drained pasta and toss with tongs to coat the pasta in the syrupy bacon grease. Then add your sauce and continue to toss. The eggs will be slightly cooked by the residual heat from the pasta. The last thing we want is scrambled eggs. Just keep tossing the pasta with your tongs and everything will get coated in the creamy goodness.
- Serve up the hot pasta in a bowl that is just a bit too large. You're not going to be able to stop.