Pasta Carbonara

The bakery is kicking my ass.

It’s kind of like this – but less fun.

For those who don’t know, about two weeks ago, I decided to move on from helping teach people to cook to a position as a baker at Fritz Pastry here in Chicago.   I have to ride my bike there.  Twenty minutes each way. Today, in the rain, both ways.  No, it’s not one of those stories.  But sandwiching a nine-hour to ten-hour shift between two bike rides, and the puppies, and daily chores, and the flippy schedule of 4 a.m. to 12 p.m. for training, well that means three things:

1.  I need comfort food.

2. I need it quick.

3. I need it to be easy.

Enter Herbed Pasta Carbonara

for each serving

1/8 – 1/4 lb pasta (I like vermicelli for this)
2 strips bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 small onion, small dice
1 clove garlic
1 heavy splash of red wine vinegar
1 egg
1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for topping
@1/2 teaspoon of fresh oregano, rough chopped
@1/2 teaspoon of fresh thyme, rough chopped
drizzle of olive oil for finishing
salt and pepper to taste

First start a pot of heavily salted water.  Start a pan on medium and throw in the lardons cold.  Cook until fat is rendered and crispy.  Fatty bacon is best for this.  You’ll need the fat later.

I only had lean bacon. Good thing I keep extra bacon fat on the ready at all times, huh? And I wasn’t even a boy scout.                                                                                                    I just chucked some extra in there.

Once the bacon is crispy, fish out with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.  Meanwhile, add onions to the pan and a pinch of salt.  Cook until lightly caramelized, then add garlic.

Cook for thirty seconds, or until aromatic, and then hit with a good splash of red wine vinegar (let’s say a tablespoon).  Cook until dry. Add bacon back in.  Set aside.

While pasta is cooking, prep the rest of your ingredients.

I’m lucky my oregano has been doing well so far this year.

My thyme is even better.

In a bowl big enough to accommodate everything, combine the egg, cheese, and most of the herbs. (By the way, you can use dried herbs for this.  Just use a small pinch of each and add it when you’re adding the garlic).

Whisk together and season with salt and pepper.

Reserve an ounce of pasta water before draining the pasta.  Immediately, while the pasta is still steaming hot, toss with the egg mixture.

wait for it…

This will cook the egg.  Throw in the bacon mixture and toss again.

aw, yeah…

Drizzle with olive oil. If the sauce is too thick, thin little by little with pasta water. If it’s too thin, add more cheese to absorb the moisture.  Oh, go ahead.  It’s comfort food.  Top with more grated cheese and the remaining herbs.

Thank your lucky stars there is something on the planet that takes less than half an hour and is this comforting.

By the way, exhausting though it is, I finally fell in love… with a job.  I’ve liked jobs before, but this is worth all the hassle.  I just love it.


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