I come from a family of eaters so it’s no surprise that my 10-month old daughter has become one. Her nickname is “maialina” (my-a-lina) which means “little piggy” in Italian. The child LOVES food. So much so that if I am not quick enough to put something in front of her chubby little face when she’s hungry, chaos ensues and she starts to grunt and squeal like a farm animal about to go to slaughter. On the other hand, when she finally does get something tasty in her mouth she’s a completely different human. Happy and giggly, she sits there clapping her hands making a “mmmm” sounds as she chews (or gums, I should say) away.
Scrambled egg yolk happens to be one of her favorite foods which inspired me to make pasta alla carbonara. Egg yolks are added to the pasta at the very end of cooking which create a rich, creamy sauce. The key here is not to scramble the eggs or you will certainly ruin a beautiful dish of pasta. The trick is to remove the pan from the heat before adding the yolks.
This is one of my favorite pasta dishes. Not only is it hearty, but it is so simple to make and chances are you already have the ingredients on hand.
Linguine alla Carbonara
- 6 ounces pancetta, in one piece (You could also use bacon)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions, sliced 1/2-in inch (about 3 cups)
- 1½ cups hot chicken stock, or canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound linguine
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano, freshly grated (The recipe calls for grated Parmiggiano Reggiano but Pecorino works just as well here)
Bring 6 quarts of salted water to the boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat.
Cut the pancetta into 1/4 inch slices, then cut the slices crosswise into 1/4 inch strips. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until the bacon is lightly browned, but still soft in the center, about 6 minutes.
Add the onions and cook until wilted, but still crunchy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil and adjust the heat to a lively simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced by about half.
Meanwhile, cook the linguine until al dente.
Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water and add the linguine to the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt if necessary. If necessary, add as much chicken stock or pasta cooking water as needed to make enough sauce to generously coat the pasta. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg yolks one at a time, tossing well after each. I use two forks to quickly mix the eggs into the sauce. Add the grated cheese, then the black pepper, and toss well.
Source: Adapted from “Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen” by Lidia Bastianich