When I’m dining alone, I usually like to treat myself to something that’s a little decadent yet simple to prepare, with a lot of umami-rich ingredients to create a deliciously satisfying meal. I find that the two most common things I prepare when I’m eating solo are pasta and eggs- both are quick and easy to make. So I decided to create my own version of the classic Italian pasta and eggs dish- pasta alla carbonara. My version of the dish uses bucatini-a thick spaghetti-like pasta that has a hole running through the center. And although the dish is already high in umami-rich ingredients with the pancetta and parmesan cheese, I decided to up the umami factor by adding thinly sliced cremini mushrooms. To top it all off, I finish the dish with a warm poached egg. When you break the egg open and the warm yolk flows over the pasta, it’s out of this world.
Curl up with a bowl of this hearty dish and you won’t mind dining alone.
—Sonali aka the Foodie Physician
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the bucatini and cook until al dente, according to package directions.
Start making the sauce while the pasta is cooking so that you will be able to add the hot pasta to the sauce as soon as it’s done cooking. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned. Add the mushrooms and cook until just softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute until fragrant. Drain the bucatini and add the hot pasta to the pan. Toss well to coat all of the pasta with the fat. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Bring the water back to a simmer to use for the poached egg.
Beat 2 eggs and the cheese together in a medium bowl. Remove the sauté pan from the heat and pour the egg and cheese mixture into the pasta, stirring it constantly with tongs until the eggs thicken and form a creamy sauce. Keep the pasta in constant motion so that the eggs don’t scramble (the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs). Add some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce until it reaches the desired consistency (it will take ½ to 1 cup). Season the pasta with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
To make the warm poached egg, add the vinegar to the pot of hot water and bring it to a simmer (just below boiling, 185-200 degrees F). Crack the remaining egg into a ramekin or small cup. Once the water reaches a simmer, pour the egg into the water. The egg will sink to the bottom of the pot and then float to the top. Cook until the white is coagulated and the yolk is partially set (slightly thickened but still flowing), 3-4 minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and blot it on a paper towel to remove excess water. Trim the edges if they are ragged.
To serve, place a mound of pasta in a bowl and top with the warm poached egg. Garnish with fresh chives. Save the remaining pasta for leftovers!