This is the dish that can make chefs scream at each other. The original recipe has come a long way and has gone through many adaptations in different regions in Italy and since crossing the Atlantic, gracing the menus of Italian restaurants and trattorias in America. I can hear some of the purists already screaming at me because my first ingredient is pasta. Just to be clear, I’m not specifically calling for spaghetti. I prefer fettuccine nests.
1 lb. of pasta (use a long pasta that needs to be twirled)
½ – 1 cup of grated parmigiano cheese (the amount of cheese depends on your taste)
½ onion, finely chopped (most recipes don’t call for onion, but I love it)
1 tablespoon of garlic
¼ pound of ham* (optional)
10 slices of thick-cut bacon**
A handful of frozen peas (optional)
3 tablespoons of heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)
*I buy a quarter pound of ham at the deli counter and ask for it as one thick slice.
** Guanciale, pancetta, or bacon? Use whatever pleases you or what is available. If you’re using bacon from the supermarket, make sure it’s plain bacon. Don’t use anything like Apple Hickory smoked or other flavorings.
Step 1: Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta and salt as per the box directions.
Step 2: While the water is waiting to boil, cook your bacon and drain on a paper towel. Retain 3 tablespoons of the drippings. Dice the bacon.
Step 3: Cook the onions in the bacon drippings. Add the ham, garlic, bacon and peas to the pan after the onions are cooked.
Step 4: Beat the eggs and add the cheese and cream. You can also temper the eggs with 4 tablespoons of the pasta water.
Step 5: Drain pasta. Add it to the skillet and toss for a minute. Remove from heat, add the egg mixture a little at a time, and keep tossing the pasta.
Removing the pan from the heat is critical. You don’t want the egg to scramble. This can also happen if you add all of the egg mixture at once.
Step 6: There is no step 6. Bring that pasta to the table and eat it while it’s hot. Enjoy!