With high hopes of many healthy starts to 2011, the post holiday doldrums inevitably creep in. The bone chilling, gray days of January have sent countless, well-intentioned New Year’s dieters into endless, frenzied cravings for rib-sticking comfort food. It’s that time of the year when the soul needs bolstering and there is no better way than whipping up some good, old-fashioned, wholesome pleasure fare. The resolutions change from dusting of the treadmill that was banished to the closet on Black Friday and grazing on creative dishes compiled of nutritious fruits and veggies to soothing the psyche with homespun hibernation specialties.
Comfort foods get a bad rap, worse than they deserve, for being unhealthy and fattening. In moderation, they can be occasional contributors to a well balanced diet. Some of the most notorious dishes include pot roast, macaroni & cheese, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, chili, fried chicken, pancakes and chocolate chip cookies. Many examples of comfort foods have a psychological, nostalgic connection, transporting the diner back to his or her childhood, thus providing “comfort” just as many of the recipes are vintage in nature, first appearing in the kitchens of our mothers and grandmothers.
Spaghetti Carbonara or Bacon & Egg Spaghetti, embarrassingly simple yet rich and decadent, with it’s distinct, sexy, silky sauce, is the dirty little secret of comfort food. This dish sounds fancy, looks fancy, tastes fancy, yet is easier to prepare than a grilled cheese sandwich and fries.
Assemble the ingredients and set the table first as timing is crucial in the preparation of this dish.
It is best served immediately. Serve it up with a nice green salad and for the true carbaholics, some crusty garlic bread. (In a comfort food emergency, it can be eaten in front of the television, out of a large bowl while sitting on your couch, under your favorite blanket.)
- One pound thick spaghetti
- 2-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 6 strips thick cut bacon or pancetta, diced & fried
- Half medium sweet onion, diced
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4 extra large eggs
- 1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- freshly ground black pepper
- Boil a large pot of salted water to cook spaghetti. Cook pasta until al dente, 12-13 minutes.
- While pasta is cooking, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet to medium heat. Saute onion, garlic and red pepper flakes until soft and translucent.
- While onions are cooking, whisk eggs with cheese and fresh ground pepper. Set aside.
- When onions are done, deglaze pan with white wine. Cook for a few minutes to reduce wine.
- Mix cooked, drained pasta into onion mixture, tossing to coat. Add more olive oil (1-2 Tbls.) if necessary to keep pasta from sticking. Toss in cooked bacon. Remove pan from heat.
- Using tongs, immediately toss egg cheese mixture into hot pasta, coating each strand. The heat from the hot pasta will cook the eggs, creating a decadent sauce. The pan MUST be off the heat or the eggs will scramble.
- Garnish with additional grated cheese.
This dish is sure to please and can be prepared in the amount of time it takes to cook the spaghetti. So, next time you find yourself on a cold winter’s evening with low inspiration and a rumble in your belly, cook up a batch of Spaghetti Carbonara and snuggle in.