Penne Carbonara & My Last Will and Testament

Lauren can have my cat because Lauren’s a dog person and Lolita (who she lived with for two years) will remind her that cats are people too. Lisa can have my “Freaks & Geeks” DVD set because she hasn’t seen the end yet; Alex can have my VHS tape of the Martin Short special that aired on NBC in the 90s with Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks which I think is the funniest thing I own because she thinks it’s as funny as I do; Ricky can hang on to my “Pippin” DVD because he has it anyway and everyone else can divide up my remaining book, cookbook, DVD and CD collections.

I am writing my last will and testament because I had this for dinner last night:

After hamburgers the night before and pizza the night before that, this was the dish that pushed me over the edge to become a true glutton. John Wayne had “True Grit,” but I’m a “True Glutton.” So if heart failure keeps me from waking up tomorrow, we now know how to divide up my possessions. If I live, it’ll be a while before I make this again–not because it wasn’t outrageously delicious, but because it made me feel guiltier than a man who kills nuns with tweezers.

Do you want to feel that guilty? Does that picture above have you salivating? Do you have a death-wish too?

It’s REALLY easy to make. You probably have all the ingredients already, with the exception of slab bacon which I had left over from the Birmingham Beet salad from the other night. I loosely interpreted a recipe for “Spaghetti Carbonara” from Marcella Hazan which I will loosely reinterpret for you in the next paragraph. This dish comes together best when you do it all in a huge rush: the high octane charges the dish with dramatic flair.

You will need: pasta (spaghetti’s the most preferable, but as you can see I used penne) (this recipe is good for half a box); 1 strip of slab bacon (or pancetta or even regular bacon); some wine (I used old old old white wine that’s been in my fridge for months. I know it’s horrible to use wine you wouldn’t actually drink but since I was only using 1/4 a cup, I didn’t care. And it tasted fine.) FRESH Parmesan cheese. 1 garlic clove.

1. Boil your pasta til it’s al dente; [you want the pasta to finish cooking just as everything else is finishing, so the heat from the pasta will cook the egg]

2. In a large bowl, crack an egg and break it up a bit with a fork. Grate about a cup of parmesan in it and then grind some pepper in there too;

3. Cut up the slab bacon into 1/4-inch strips. Take a Tbs or 2 of olive oil and pour into a skillet; heat on medium heat and add the garlic clove. Let it flavor the oil til it’s golden then remove. Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes until crisp on the outside. Move off the heat and add 1/4 cup of wine. It will sizzle.

4. Then it’s pure assembly. Add the drained pasta to the egg in the bowl; stir around and coat. Then add the bacon and the bacon fat (all the liquid from the skillet) and toss around. Taste. It is delicious. Write your last will and testament and bon apetit!

15 thoughts on “Penne Carbonara & My Last Will and Testament”

  1. This looks sooo good. I have always loved pasta carbonara, no matter how bad it is for you. The kind my family makes adds heavy cream and no wine. So, really you’re having the light version. Don’t you feel healthy now?

  2. This is one of the best writings you have ever done! I laughed out loud and salivated. What more could a reader want?

  3. Pasta carbonara was one of the first meals my hubby made for me when we started dating. Boy-howdy! That stuff is rich – he uses heavy cream in his version. Everytime you eat it you can feel yourself edging a little closer to death – but what a way to go!

  4. I make this quite often, but use regular bacon (about 8oz, and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat), add the wine to that pan and let it reduce. I also use three-four eggs (fresh if available; I think supermarket eggs are yucko in this dish) for a pound of pasta. I also use a mix of Pecorino Romano and Parm Regg. Parm Regg is buttery and creamy, but the sharpness of the Pecorino adds a nice bite to this dish. I beat the eggs and cheese together, add two minced garlic cloves and pour it over the warm pasta, toss. I add the bacon/reduced wine mixture last so that the bacon sticks to the pasta thanks to the egg. It’s really delish, but it is best served immediately. I always use linguine or spaghetti, but your version looks so good I will take a chance and try it with penne or ziti next time.

  5. I loved Freaks & Geeks! I must now run out and buy the boxset, along with a keg of non-alcoholic beer.

  6. Carbonara is all my boyfriend ate in Italy. Granted, his parents are Sicilian and professional chefs, so he’s had his lifetime fill of Italian food. Still, this looks absolutely heavenly!! I’ll have to make it!

  7. Bacon and Eggs… now you can die happy!

    I’m one of the few that has yet to discover Freak and Geeks. I’ve decided that in light of my recent Star Wars marathon, I must sit and watch every episode of Freaks and Geeks in one sitting.

  8. This is more or less the way I make carbonara, too — I learned the wine trick from Nigella Lawson in How To Eat. I like linguine best — the long flat strands get a thorough coating of the slippery sauce. And I’m with Soylent on mixing some Pec Romano in with the Parm. I’m so glad you don’t use cream — it’s completely unnecessary, and from what I understand, inauthentic as well. After all, Pasta alla Carbonara is “charcoal-burners’ pasta”. How many charcoal burners do you know who have a pint or so of heavy cream lying aroundm their hut?

  9. Wait! Heck with the carbonara — I want the Martin Short special! I love that man, and that special was just genius. With that and the Freaks and Geeks, plus all this hilarious foodwriting….

    Adam, will you marry me?

  10. Great post, great dish.

    Adam, given a choice which would you prefer spaghetti carbonara or that really delicious bacon and egg risotto you had at Craft?


  11. Yes, bravo for Adam who didn’t add any cream to his carbonara and prepared it the true Italian way.

  12. I make my carbonara with fresh gnocci and sherry instead of white wine. The gnocci suck up a lot of the fat in the dish so that it doesn’t feel so heavy on your tongue, and they also absorb all of the flavors of the dish better than a regular pasta. The sherry adds a deepness that white wine lacks, and helps re-balance the flavors after the greedy little gnocci have gulped up so much of the dish’s intensity.

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