Hangover Helper #1: An Incredibly Simple Pseudo-Carbonara Pasta That's So Easy, You Can Make it Drunk

September 5, 2012 6:54 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Carbonara
This is one of those pasta recipes that I keep coming back to, time and time again, because of how simple, easy, and perfect it is. The results are astoundingly elegant, given how almost clumsily it's prepared. In college, I made it for all of my roommates when I was drunk (not an endorsement for mixing fire and booze), or in the morning, to combat those awful feelings. (Photo: Creative Commons)

This is one of those pasta recipes that I keep coming back to, time and time again, because of how simple, easy, and perfect it is. The results are astoundingly elegant, given how almost clumsily it's prepared. In college, I made it for all of my roommates when I was drunk (not an endorsement for mixing fire and booze), or in the morning, to combat those awful feelings.

It's a pasta recipe can be made in a pinch, as it uses ingredients that you probably already have on hand. There's also tons of room for variation: add some pancetta or American bacon, if you like, or maybe even a ribbon of Sriracha (okay, I admit it, I have a problem).

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But whatever you do with it, you have to eat it immediately. It does not keep at all, and since I make it in huge batches, you're in danger of owning some pretty worthless leftovers. That's why it's great to have roommates: they're doing you a favor, and they're all convinced they're taking advantage.

So here's my Hangover Helper recipe. It's basically a carbonara with a ton of shortcuts, but I can feel the ghosts of so many Italian grandmothers bearing down my shoulder, as well as the words of Chef Alex McWilliams of Chio when he told me earlier today that good Italian cooking eschewed "Italian American cliches" like "chicken marsala, picattas, oversized veal chops, and a lot of those things that people associate Italian food with that actually don't exist in Italy, like chicken parmesan."

So even if this dish doesn't exist in Italy, you'll be happy to have it on your plate. And since I make it with fresh noodles (but you don't have to), I'm doing Chef McWilliams really proud. Here's how I serve it up:

1. Choose your noodle

I like a broad noodle for this, since this sauce isn't delicate. I find that skinnier noodles bring out the delicateness of, say, a floral-citrus sauce that's as light against the teeth as it is on the tongue; or, say, a simple veal salt. http://www.foodnrecipe.com/articles/2088/20120904/bath-salts-more-veal-heres-make-home.htm . This is a ham-fisted, thick sauce. It needs a fat noodle or two.

Go for a fettucini or a linguine.

2. Prepare it for cooking.

Boil and salt your water. Pour on in the whole package. If you're using one of the standard blue packs, you're gonna need five eggs for this.

3. Five eggs?!?!

You heard me. Heat a thin layer of olive oil on medium heat in a pan large enough to hold the whole pot of pasta (sans water, of course). When the pasta is a minute from being done, add the five eggs and let them cook until the clear part just starts to turn white, and not a moment longer.

4. The magic step.

Working quickly, strain the pasta, then add the hot noodles over the eggs. Add one cup of grated parmesan and three tablespoons of butter. The better your cheese, the more flavorful this pasta. Cover the pan, then turn the heat off. All that starchy steam from the noodles is going to cook the eggs, and seep on through them.

Wait one minute.

5. Season.

Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir it up to make sure all that poached egg goodness makes a proper sauce for the pasta. Serve.



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