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The bacon and eggs of pasta

On a recent trip to Italy, Kirstie noticed one common theme in all of the great food we had the pleasure of eating: simplicity. Most dishes had no more than four or five ingredients, yet everything was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and almost always drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, which gave every dish a beautiful mouth-feel.

We had our fair share of pasta, simply prepared with quality ingredients, never swimming in the sauce. We stayed at a breathtaking little villa in the town of Marcialla, in a region that is famous for Tuscan olive oils and Chianti wines.  Italy’s Tuscany is also a very meat- and game-based region – we visited famous butchers, and had incredible Bistecca – Florence’s famous two-inch thick T-bone steak. Butcher shops had more prosciutto hanging from the ceiling than I had ever seen, and they also specialized in a cured bacon-like pork product that is made for pasta carbonara. We couldn’t, of course, go two weeks without cooking for ourselves (I just can’t help it!) and after a long day of travel, this Carbonara, made with local fresh eggs and salty cured pork was pure comfort food.

No matter what the time of year, pasta is always in season, especially since it’s fast, easy and relatively inexpensive.  I avoid using cream in this recipe so as to stay true to the traditional recipe. Sometimes I refer to this pasta as the ‘bacon and egg’ pasta – try it once and you’ll get cravings for it every now and then.

Pasta Carbonara Serves 6

  • 1 450g package of dried spaghetti (I use De Cecco brand)
  • 1/2 lb thick cut bacon from the market
  • 1/5 lb pancetta, diced
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 4 large very fresh eggs
  • salt as needed
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino cheese (or Parmiggiano)

Get a large pot of boiling water going, with about 2 tbsp of kosher salt; add pasta to boiling water, stir, and cook until al dente: take a noodle out of the pot, and eat it. It should have a nice bite to it;

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium-low heat, begin to fry bacon and pancetta  – if this doesn’t produce about 2 tbsp of fat, add a little olive oil;

Whisk eggs well with a pinch of salt and the black pepper;

When pasta is done, remove from boiling water with tongs or a pasta spoon and place immediately in frying pan with the bacon;

Turn off the heat of the frying pan, and then add eggs, all at once and stir really well until all of the eggs are incorporated. The heat of the pasta cooks the eggs;

Serve immediately, drizzled with more extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with cheese. Yum.

Chefs Kirstie Herbstreit and Jody O’Malley are both Red Seal certified chefs. Together they run the company YouCanCook2, specializing in interactive dinner parties. You can also find them cooking at Entertaining Elements in St. Jacobs, where they hold private dinners for eight people. To contact the chefs, visit their website www.youcancook2.com.

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