I refuse on principle to make pasta with butter (or powdered cheese) for my children. So I respond with this crowd-pleaser and artery-clogger. I prepared this version for my daughter's slumber party, and everyone loved it (even the vegetarian). Quick to prepare and easy to have on hand. Modify quantities and proportions as you will. Note use of complete packages below. I totally prefer American bacon to pancetta for its crispness in this dish. —Eric Liftin
Test Kitchen Notes
A good carbonara is not easy to find -- nor, for that matter, to make. We found the silky, rich sauce resulting from generous doses of bacon, egg and cheese totally addictive, and peas are a great addition. We also love the story behind Eric's recipe. After all, feeding one's children is often a necessity that breeds culinary invention. Because one of us (we won't name names) suffers the chronic plight of scrambling her eggs when she makes carbonara, we tempered the egg and cheese mixture by whisking in about 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water before adding the spaghetti. 10 oz. is a whole lotta peas (we're guessing Eric's kids are fans), so feel free to take his advice and modify the proportions. - A&M —The Editors
Start cooking the pasta (I have long subscribed to the less-water method Harold McGee addresses here).
Take the bacon out of the package, cold out of the refrigerator, and cut across the slices into 1/2" wide blocks. Cook in a skillet over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the blocks with a wooden spoon.
Dump the peas into a Pyrex bowl with a little water and microwave 3-4 minutes, until they are warm, stirring halfway through.
While all the cooking is going on, Mix the egg, parmesan, and pepper (to taste - it's best to use a lot, but for kids, maybe less) in a large bowl. It should have the consistency of thick batter.
When the pasta is done, drain it quickly. Don't linger, as it's good to capture some of the water. Dump the steaming spaghetti into the egg mixture, and agitate well to cook the egg. Add the bacon with a slotted spoon. Some purists will just empty the skillet into the bowl, but that is too much. Mix in the peas, and you're done. The biggest challenge is to get the bacon and peas mixed in evenly - I recommend steel tongs.