Spaghetti Carbonara

This recipe is taken from an Italian classic, and while I won't pretend it's purely authentic (I'm not Italian...but I wish) it's pretty darn close, with a mushroom addition/option that can be included or used as a vegetarian alternative.  I aim to please :)  Indulge in this.  It's worth every delicious bite.

Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ lb good-quality bacon diced
  • ¾ lb dry spaghetti egg pasta, if possible
  • 3 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese divided
  • Cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • 2 cups reserved pasta cooking water approx. (this is SO important!)
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in large skillet until starting to crisp, but not crispy! Remove bacon with slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towel. Leave remaining bacon fat in pan and turn off heat.

  2. Set a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add a good handful of salt (at least 2-3 tbsp) to boiling water and drop in spaghetti. Cook according to package directions for ‘al dente’, or about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, egg, and 1 cup cheese in a medium bowl. Add in cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  4. Scoop out 2 cups hot pasta cooking water and set aside. Transfer cooked pasta, using tongs, to skillet with bacon fat and toss to coat. Note: it’s o.k. if some of the water clings to pasta during transfer, but try to let most of it drip off first.
  5. Add egg mixture to pasta, along with reserved cooked bacon and 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water. Toss gently with tongs until pasta begins to absorb the sauce and mixture thickens, coating pasta evenly. If mixture appears too ‘dry’ or thick, add more pasta water, 1/2 cup at a time, and continue to toss. Transfer mixture to serving dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese before serving.
Recipe Notes

Mushroom Option: Sauté 5-6oz (about 2 cups) quartered cremini mushrooms in reserved bacon fat, along with 1 extra tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 finely chopped (small) shallot, and a pinch of salt. Saute for 3-4 more minutes then turn off heat. Proceed with remaining steps, leaving mushrooms in pan to toss with pasta, bacon and egg mixture.

Vegetarian Option:  Omit bacon and saute mushrooms in 3 tbsp olive oil.