This rich, comforting, if unconventional, carbonara comes together quickly — less than 30 minutes. You can do the prep while you’re waiting for the pasta water to boil. It’s a good idea to warm your pasta bowls, too, as this dish gets cold quick once it’s done. It makes three hearty servings, but you can stretch it to four reasonable size portions, especially if you serve a side salad and crusty bread. —Chef Gwen
2 to 3 tablespoons
strips thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips crosswise
medium size cloves of garlic, minced
dry rosé or dry white wine (optional)
grated Parmesan, plus more for garnishing
fresh grated nutmeg
(6.5 oz) can high quality smoked salmon, drained
Bring 5-1/2 to 6 quarts of cold water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in salt when water comes to a full boil.
Stir in pasta, stirring constantly until pasta is submerged and soft. Reduce heat to medium-high (just enough to get a gentle but active boil.) Stir occasionally as pasta cooks (7 to 8 minutes for al dente). Meanwhile...
Place bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until almost crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes, then stir in garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about a minute.
(Optional) Deglaze pan with wine, scraping up the browned bacon bits. Cook until the wine has reduced to 2 tablespoons.
Whisk the eggs, Parmesan, half-and-half, and nutmeg together in a bowl or measuring cup while the bacon is cooking and set aside.
Drain pasta when it is al dente. Reserve about a half a cup or so of the pasta cooking water.
Place the hot pasta into the deglazed skillet with the bacon and garlic. Turn off the heat.
Pour the egg mixture into the hot pasta, tossing quickly as you pour. Stir in the drained can of salmon, breaking up the big lumps.
Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water. Sometimes I need 1/4 cup other times I use 1/2 cup or more. The sauce should look creamy.
Sprinkle pasta with black pepper. Toss well to distribute the pepper. Taste and season with more pepper and/or salt if needed.
Divide among warmed pasta bowls and garnish with more Parmesan. Serve immediately.