I have this strange obsession with taking perfectly well-behaved recipes, pulling them apart and putting them back together again in alternate forms. This is how my family ends up eating things like lasagna cupcakes and macaroni and cheese soup and brownies that have been turned into pudding cake in the slow cooker. But my latest fixation is messing around with pasta carbonara, and this particular version came about mainly because I’ve FINALLY learned how to poach an egg without making myself cry…and so I bring you what I am fondly calling Dismantled Pasta Carbonara.
Now, the dismantled part is because traditional pasta carbonara is a mixture of pasta, scrambled eggs, bacon and parmesan cheese, all mingled together to form a creamy dish of wonderfulness. It’s one of the Southern husband’s faves, and ridiculously easy to make, so we have it pretty regularly. As in, on any day that my brain is so tuckered out that I can’t imagine making anything more strenuous. So it occurred to me that this family favorite was loooong overdue for me not leaving well enough alone and trying the basic ingredients in a different form.
This happened to coincide with me finally after spending approximately one million light years figuring out how to poach an egg. Up until now I either used poach pods or drove down the road to my mother’s house (and yes, no matter how old you are, your mama will still poach you an egg if you show up in her kitchen looking mournful enough). I have no idea how I finally blundered onto my poached egg wisdom, but I have it now, and soon I am going to do one of those procedural blog posts that show you all the steps. (That should be interesting, seeing if I can take pictures and poach eggs at the same time.) In the meantime, I’ve been looking for any excuse to poach an egg, and dismantling pasta carbonara was a golden one.
Here’s the scoop – cook up some of your favorite pasta…spaghetti or linguine is traditional for carbonara, but I went with pappardalle because I happened to have some around and it worked out perfectly. While the pasta is cooking, cook up some bacon and crumble it into bite-sized pieces, and when the bacon is done, melt some butter in a large, deep skillet. Now drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the butter…this will keep it from sticking together while we poach the egg.
Now go ahead and poach that egg, and if you haven’t yet reached confident egg-poaching stage yet, you can also fry it over easy…just make sure the yolk is nice and creamy, as that is key to the wonderfulness of this recipe. Onward to the assembly! Toss the bacon in with the buttered pasta, and distribute it among warmed plates. Now top each plate with an egg, scatter some shaved parmesan on top, and grind on some fresh pepper. Now for the most important step, which is to break the yolk of the egg so it melts down into your pasta – I find that cutting an X into the top of the egg with a paring knife is perfect for this.
And there you go…pasta carbonara, dismantled. I’m looking around for my next dismantling target as we speak!
- 8 ounces pappardelle, spaghetti or other long pasta
- 6 slices bacon
- ½ stick butter
- 2 eggs
- Shaved parmesan cheese
- Fresh ground pepper
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- While pasta is boiling, cook bacon, drain on paper towels and crumble into bite sized pieces.
- Melt butter in large deep skillet. When pasta is done, add to melted butter and toss. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm while you make the eggs.
- Poach, soft boil or fry eggs over easy, making sure yolks are still soft.
- Divide pasta between warmed plates. Top each plate with an egg and shaved parmesan. Grind pepper on top, break the egg yolk so it melts into the pasta and serve at once.