Penne Carbonara

Today I had no idea what to write. That didn’t mean that I was speechless, but I just didn’t want to subject you to endless political rants about North Carolina or the LAUSD quietly cutting the entire elementary music program. Those subjects are for another forum.

In my book, I write about the secret to cooking: getting off of the couch and getting into the kitchen. That is the entire secret. Turns out, it’s the secret to just about everything. Writing these daily missives is the perfect example. The brain is a fertile thing. You write and it comes out. This is also true for any task, chore, game, or trip that one needs to execute. JUST DO IT may be a cliché hijacked by a sports company, but it could not be any more profound.

Sometimes I don’t want to cook. I completely understand the sentiment. But, if you have kids like I do, those buggers want to eat constantly. Since frozen pizzas drain from the freezer like the leak in the ice maker and the peanut butter evaporates instantly, the only hope for filling their endless pits is the preparation of simple, healthy, nutritious food. So, even when I don’t want to, I have to get up off of the preverbal couch and cook. What complicates this process is the lack of ingredients. We can go to the store every single day and yet everything disappears before the dinner is prepared. These kids will eat anything. “Oh look, a bag of  raw polenta! I bet that’s good on toast.” Since the refrigerator is nothing more than a safe “feed bag” for them, my only hope is to go directly from the store to the pan.

The other night I was not going to the store. My globe trotting wife was off trotting the globe and my patience for all things familial had waned (or had it waxed?). All I knew was that I was hungry and so were the two teenagers presently in my “care”. My hopes of them disappearing on bikes and skateboards had evaporated and I was left with ingredients that they didn’t dare eat raw. I took a quick inventory and realized they were in for a treat. I knew this dish well, but couldn’t remember the last time I tried it. It turned out great and so I share it with you today.

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb. Penne Pasta
  • 4 Fresh Egg Yolks (remember the eggs from the farmers market?)
  • 1/4 Cup Cream or Half and Half
  • 2 Handfuls Grated Parmesan
  • 4 Pieces of Bacon, sliced in 1/2″ widths
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Pan for Pasta
  • Large Sauté Pan
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Fine Grater
  1. Start cooking the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water.
  2. Sauté bacon and pepper flakes in the olive oil. Do this over a fairly low flame so you render as much fat from the bacon as possible. Cook bacon until crispy.
  3. In the mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 1/2 of the parmesan and cream together. I use half and half because it’s always available for my wife’s coffee.
  4. Drain pasta and add to bacon. Mix together to thoroughly coat the pasta.
  5. Turn off heat, whisk the egg mixture one last time and pour over pasta, mixing well. 
  6. Add the rest of the cheese and continue to stir in.
  7. Add pepper and salt, although usually you do not need any salt. 
Serve with a simple salad. The key to this being really good is really bright, fresh egg yolks, really good bacon, top grade parmesan and hungry kids.
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