I know some of you may find this hard to believe, but I made my first spaghetti carbonara last night.
It would have been a classic carbonara, except that I forgot to buy pancetta, and even if I had bought it I might have had to throw it out, because our main refrigerator was on the blink for more than a week, and we ended up losing a lot of food.
So instead I used some precooked chopped bacon (the kind that comes in a bag at Costco) and the meat from a smoked turkey leg I picked up on sale last week and remembered to move to the downstairs refrigerator before it spoiled. I cut the smoked turkey meat into chunks and sauteed it with the bacon while the pasta boiled.
It was really, really good. So good that if it weren't completely outrageous I might go buy some pancetta today and make it the authentic way tonight.
Pretty sure I can't justify that though. I should wait at least another day, right? Must eat at least one vegetable tonight at dinner.
[Evening update: I should have made the carbonara. Instead I tried to be healthy and was shredding brussels sprouts on a mandoline and cut off a good chunk of my left thumb. If I'd stuck with carbonara, we'd be up a few pounds but my thumb would be intact. Can't win for losing.]
Classic spaghetti carbonara with smoked turkey
Classic spaghetti carbonara will never be light, but subbing smoked turkey leg meat for some of the pork gets you part of the way there without sacrificing much in the way of flavor.
- 1 pound dry spaghetti
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 smoked turkey leg, meat removed from bones, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan, romano or Grana Padano cheese, plus more for serving
- freshly grated black pepper
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti and the salt and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet and add the smoked turkey and cooked bacon. Saute the meat about 4 minutes, until the turkey chunks are browned and crisp on the outside. Add the garlic, stir, and turn off the heat until the pasta is ready. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the grated cheese.When the pasta is al dente, turn the heat back on under the skillet and add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the skillet with the meat. Toss about 1 minute, until the pasta is coated with the juices (okay, the fat) from the pan. Turn the hot spaghetti mixture into the mixing bowl with the eggs and cheese. Using tongs or two large spoons, toss the pasta vigorously to coat it with the egg mixture. Don't skimp on this step - the hot pasta will cook the egg on contact, but if you let it sit too long in one position it will end up more like scrambled eggs and less like the silky result you want. Grind on a lot of black pepper, toss again, and serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 generous servings