My family can be quite opinionated. There aren’t too many shrinking violets amongst us so when there is an opinion to be voiced you can be sure it will be. The saving grace to all of this behavior is that it stems 100% from a genuine desire to be helpful. Unless, of course you are messing with the family’s carbonara recipe. Apparently, one day my father decided to take a couple of liberties with the routine and quite a brouhaha ensued. He had added onion! The devil!
Then one day, totally unaware of this drama, I casually asked my dad if he’s ever considered adding onion or peas to his carbonara. Before he could simultaneously roll his eyes, chuckle, and wave the question away with his hands (can you tell he’s Italian?) a storm of commentary was coming from the peanut gallery that adding those items was, well, essentially forbidden. Hello!
But apparently my family is not alone in this devotion to a particular carbonara… a twist on the traditional recipe stirred up a hornet’s nest of debate on the New York Times Diner’s Journal Blog last year. So, we’re not alone.
In light of the debate (and out of respect for my mother) I will say in no uncertain terms: the onions and peas are optional. Oh, and the bacon is pretty Americanized, so if you’re looking for more authentic meat use a pancetta (sliced thick) instead.
And if you get complaints about authenticity… don’t blame me, I warned you!
1 lb linguine
1 tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
10 slices bacon, diced
½ cup frozen peas
½-1 cup cooking water
Remove the eggs from the refrigerator so they can come up to room temperature.
Bring to boil a large pot of water for cooking the pasta.
In a large frying pan add the olive oil and onion and begin to sauté over medium high heat. Add the bacon and sauté while the water for the pasta heats and then while the pasta cooks.
Beat the eggs in a medium sized heat proof bowl and place them near the stove.
When the pasta is ready, DO NOT DRAIN, but remove from the pasta from the pot using tongs so as to retain the cooking water. Add the pasta to the fry pan and turn the heat to the lowest possible setting.
Slowly temper the eggs by beating them while drizzling the boiling water into the eggs. When the eggs have been tempered add them to the fry pan and slowly stir everything together. Add the peas and stir slowly so that the egg mixture warms and coats the pasta. The linguine will absorb some of the liquid and a creamy sauce will develop in the pan. Add more cooking liquid if it appears too dry.
Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and grind of black pepper on top.
Serves 4-6 depending on if you serve a salad with it.