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Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 07:16 pm

Bacon and eggs for dinner

Whip up some spaghetti alla Carbonara

Untitled Document Hello, my name is Kim and I’m a bacon-holic. For a cook who prides herself on mindful moderation, this is a difficult culinary confession. No other comestible tickles my sensory neurons quite like smoked pork belly. All it takes is one little lardon and I’m doing a jig, high as a kite. The problem is, I can’t just have one. Within minutes I morph into a ravenous heathen, licking my fingers and wolfing down every last bacony morsel. As a result, I can’t do bacon and eggs, because the bacon will do me first. As you can imagine, the cholesterol consequences of such compulsive behavior are dire, and, yes, I choose life over bacon. It’s a conundrum, all right, and what I’ve come up with to satisfy both my id and my conscience is spaghetti carbonara. Instead of bacon and eggs, I make bacon-and-egg pasta, a classic Roman dish that found its way into American kitchens after the boys came home from World War II. Old-timers (and Mario Batali) use guanciale (say gwahn-chall-ay), the jowl/cheek area of the pig, but the younger kids have their eyes set on pancetta, from the belly. What they have in common is a decidedly unsmoked nature, yielding a milder (and possibly less desirable) result for us bacon freaks. You know what I use. Although I’m doing great in recovery, I do have a jones for the stuff every few months, and the carbonara does the job without pushing me into the gutter.
Culinary questions? Contact Kim O’Donnel at kim.odonnel@creativeloafing.com.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Adapted from the December 2007 issue of GQ magazine
The amounts below make enough for two servings with a side salad. Amounts may be doubled.
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil 6 to 8 ounces pancetta or thick-cut or slab bacon Half a box of spaghetti Two large eggs 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino      Romano cheese, or a mixture of the two Salt and black pepper to taste Optional garnishes: a handful of chopped fresh parsley,      zest of half a lemon
Bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil and add at least 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot. Add spaghetti. While spaghetti is cooking, chop the pancetta or bacon into 1/4-inch matchsticks and heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and fry until crisp. Turn down the heat to low until you’re ready to assemble the dish. Break the eggs into a mixing bowl. Add a small handful of grated cheese and a pinch of pepper. Beat the mixture together just enough to combine. When the spaghetti is al dente (10-12 minutes), drain it and add it to the egg mixture in the bowl. Reserve some of the pasta water just in case. Add another small handful of cheese and, using two forks or a pair or tongs, toss the mixture until the spaghetti is well coated. Drain at least half of the fat from the pancetta or bacon and sprinkle the crisped bits into the pasta, plus remaining fat. Sprinkle with more cheese and black pepper. Do not stir immediately; allow the contents of the bowl to sit for about 30 seconds, then toss to combine. If the mixture seems too dry, gradually add a few ounces of pasta water to make it creamier. Taste for salt, pepper, and cheese and season accordingly. Add the garnish(es) of your choice.
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