Bacon Pasta started years ago at my son’s friend Harry’s house. The boys met the first day of kindergarten and became fast friends. Almost a decade later, an invitation to Harry’s house is like winning the lottery for Jake; they swim, shoot hoops, play video games, and eventually, eat Harry’s Mom’s Famous Bacon Pasta. Harry’s mom shared the recipe with me but it just wasn’t exactly the same for Jake. It was hard to match how much better something tastes after a special day with a great friend. Over the years, I finally gave up on trying to perfect Harry’s Mom’s Bacon Pasta and developed my own version.
Food is like that, isn’t it? It makes simple every day things like a play date more special and helps to flavor our memories. Food creates a sensory imprint for us that lasts a lifetime. I have vivid, delicious memories of the food I ate while visiting our dearest family friends. I can tell you about the special chili on New Year’s Day from Auntie Joan or the perfect summer Wisconsin corn at Auntie Dianne’s house. I’m sure you have your family favorites but make room for one more. This Spaghetti Carbonara is a warm, comforting classic that you will love.
I started experimenting with different versions of Bacon Pasta and settled on this Spaghetti Carbonara. The recipe is pretty flexible and over the years, I increased the amount of pancetta so that no one is feeling short changed in the pancetta department. Sometimes I make it with a thick cut of pancetta from the butcher that I dice up myself, and other times, I go old school and just roll with the bacon I have on hand in the fridge. Go with whatever sounds good to you. We like this with a simple green salad and garlic bread.
- 1 lb. spaghetti
- 8 oz. pancetta or bacon, small dice
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise *optional
- 1 Tablespoon olive Oil
- 3 egg yolks
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Cook spaghetti following directions on box. Before you drain, set aside about a cup of pasta water.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine egg yolks, heavy cream, cheese, pepper, and salt. Set aside.
- In a skillet, cook pancetta until rendered crisp. Discard excess oil.
- Add garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Do not burn the garlic!
- Turn off heat and in pan, add hot, drained pasta to the bacon mixture and quickly add egg mixture. Using tongs, combine so that sauce coats pasta thoroughly and is smooth and creamy. If it's too runny, keep over low heat and toss a little more until it thickens. If you need to thin the sauce, mix in a splash of the reserved pasta water.
- Check seasonings and serve immediately.