Thursday, January 06, 2011

Elizabeth Zelvin's Pasta Carbonara

 I remember picking up a bookmark announcing Elizabeth Zelvin's titles Death Will Help You Leave Him and Death Will Get You Sober at a conference and thinking those were the among the funniest titles I'd ever seen.  The books measure up as well and this clever author joins us today to Warm Up with Pasta Carbonara.-AA

Pasta Carbonara

I’m always disappointed with what restaurants call Pasta Carbonara, because it’s never anything like the dish a friend introduced me to when I was working as a reference book editor back in the late Sixties. Back then, we didn’t call it pasta, and it was usually spaghetti. The only variant I can remember using is thin spaghetti (No. 9 instead of No. 8), and that seemed pretty radical to me. This recipe will work with any long, wiggly pasta. My favorite is fusilli, but not the corkscrew kind; rather, the loosely curled kind that can be hard to find. It’s very quick to make and perfect with a salad for a simple but delicious meal. Forty years ago, we didn’t worry about cholesterol. Today, almost everybody has to go easy on the bacon, which makes this dish even more of a treat on the rare occasion I make it.

1 lb pasta

1 egg, beaten

6 strips bacon

garlic powder (fresh sautéed minced garlic might be a nice variant)

cayenne pepper (and there’s your “spicy”)

Cook the bacon to taste (crispy is easier to work with, but I love it soft), drain, break into bits, and set aside.

Cook the pasta in generously salted water until it’s al dente. Drain the pasta and put it in a bowl that’s big enough for easy tossing.

Now, here’s the fun part: Pour the beaten egg into the hot pasta and toss until the hot pasta cooks the egg. (It’s like egg drop soup with pasta instead of soup.)

Add and toss the bacon bits. If your arteries can stand it, you can enhance the flavor with a teeny bit of the bacon fat, since you’re not using oil or butter in this dish.

Add garlic and cayenne to taste. I like the cayenne to add a soupçon of zinginess.

Toss and serve.

The trick is to do the whole thing very quickly, so the pasta is hot enough to cook the egg. And it is yummy.

Elizabeth Zelvin, two-time Agatha award nominated author of Death Will Get You Sober and Death Will Help You Leave Him. Her short stories “The Green Cross” and “Navidad” appeared in recent issues of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Her author website is She blogs on Poe’s Deadly Daughters.


Anne said...

How quickly can I fry up some bacon? It has an egg so it can be breakfast, right? This sounds divine. And you're right, Amy. Those are two of the best titles EVER. I love the title Death Will Help You Leave Him! Must read.

linguinadc said...

Well done! The recipe it's perfect, also if in Italy we normally use pancetta instead than bacon!

However i couldn't eat that for breakfast Anne, but if you can, why not?