This is a public service announcement about how my dad’s spaghetti alla carbonara is probably now my favorite food on the planet Earth. I have been eating it for many years and I think it has finally edged out all red sauces and pesto. Big time.
Carbonara is, in essence, perfectly delicious al dente spaghetti tossed in egg, pancetta/bacon, pecorino romano or fontina and parmesan cheeses, black pepper plus small variations for flavor like onion and fresh parsley. Although, I suppose I am simplifying the masterful prep and cooking that results in the finished product and allows the liquefied egg to cook just enough.
My father uses the recipe from Italian Family Cooking, a beloved cookbook by Edward Giobbi published in 1971. Unbelievably, Giobbi’s day job is not as a chef but as an artist. Anyway, my father does this recipe justice to perfection. I have included it below. It amazes me how from restaurant to restaurant or published recipe to published recipe, the dish can vary so much as to bear no resemblance to one another. True carbonara does not have cream (outside of Italy the world has bastardized the dish) and I also get offended when peas or mushrooms are added. If your restaurant serves you some like that, spit in it and send it back.
The pictures from Christmas remind me of this work of art and so just a few days after his birthday, a shout-out to my dad. Yum.
Edward Giobbi’s Spaghetti Alla Carbonara by my Dad
You will need:
1/4 pound pancetta or lean bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto
1/2 pound diced Fontina or Fontinella cheese (or pecorino romano)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb spaghetti
4 beaten eggs
grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
5 tbsp. chopped parsley (a pinch on reserve)
Cook pancetta or bacon in a small skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Sauté onions in olive oil. When wilted, add all other ingredients except spaghetti, eggs and Parmesan cheese. Cover, and simmer over low heat, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes.
Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until tender, but firm to the bite – al dente. Drain, place in serving bowl and while pasta is hot, immediately add eggs and toss well. Add cheese sauce mixture and toss agin. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese and garnished with the pinch of reserved parsley.
Serves as many people as 1 pound of spaghetti serves. But it’s delicious, so make extra.