I have been wanting to try a Carbonara for some time. It is a very common dish but I have never made any version of it on my own. This particular version comes from Peter's first cousin Lia in Greece. You can find his recipe here, but, I did prepare the recipe true to form. I was craving pasta and needed a recipe where I would have most of the ingredients already available in my pantry. I was missing the classic Greek cheese Kefalotyri, but this is readily available here. I also loved the tips that I have highlighted.
Carbinara is usually made with spaghetti and a combination of eggs, Parmesan and pancetta...but a twist on this classic dish is never too far from Italy... the homeland of its birth.
Like a lot of homespun recipes, the origins of the dish are somewhat obscure.The name is derived from the Italian word for charcoal. This theory gave rise to the term "coal miner's spaghetti," which is used to refer to spaghetti alla carbonara in parts of the United States. Perhaps its name comes from the fact that it was originally made over charcoal grills. Still other theories suggest that it derived its name from the fact that the specks of bacon and pepper in the pasta look like bits of charcoal. It has even been suggested that it was created by the Carbonari ("charcoalmen"), an Italian secret society.
The dish was obscure before the Second World War, and it is not present in classic cookbooks before 1927. It is thought to have originated in the hills outside Rome, not in the city itself. Its popularity began after the Second World War, when many Italians were eating eggs and bacon supplied by troops from the United States. It became popular among American troops stationed in Italy who brought it back with them when they returned home. Wherever the name comes from...just call it delicious.
**Lia's Spinach Carbonara**
1 package (500gr.) dry linguine
12 strips of bacon
4 handfuls of thawed frozen spinach, squeezed of excess water
OR 6 cups of fresh baby spinach, rinsed & pat dry
4 eggs yolks
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Kefalotyri cheese
lots of cracked black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 cup of red onions, diced
1/4 cup dry white wine
some pasta water
some extra grated Kefalotyri (or Romano) cheese
Place a large pot of water on your stovetop and bring to a boil. Add a good amount of salt and cook your pasta as per package instructions. In a small bowl, whisk your egg yolks, cream, grated cheese and black pepper and set aside.
Chop your strips of bacon into bite-sized pieces and place in a large skillet. Add about a 1/3 cup of water and bring to a boil. The water will help render the fat in the bacon and eventually leave you with crispy bacon. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Remove excess bacon fat or add some olive oil if the skillet is too dry.
Add your onions and smashed garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat while stirring. Now add the wine and keep on stirring to deglaze and release the brown bits from the bacon. Reduce until there's almost no liquid left, take off the heat and reserve.
As soon as your pasta is cooked, reserve some pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta back into the skillet, along with the bacon, egg/cream mixture and your spinach. Begin tossing and folding the sauce into the pasta. If your sauce is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and continue to coat. Your sauce should cook and thicken from the residual heat of the pasta. If the sauce is too loose, place your skillet under very low-heat and keep tossing the sauce & the pasta until it thickens.
Plate the pasta with some more cracked black pepper and have some grated cheese available at the table.
Thanks for the recipe Peter and Lia!!!