A couple days ago this recipe from Tamarind and Thyme caught my eye. There was nothing special about it, no exotic ingredients or novel cooking method, so maybe its simple and unassuming nature was what appealed to me. Given the occasion to whip up something for a crowd, I jumped at the chance to try it out. This dish obviously bears resemblance to pasta carbonara and the taste profile is arguably similar. But frying the eggs before combining them with the pasta gives the cook some leeway. Since the heat of the pasta doesn’t bear the full responsibility of cooking the eggs, there’s less pressure to coordinate the cooking of the pasta with the other ingredients. Capiche?
I think this pasta is some of the best I’ve made, which sounds like a grand statement but really isn’t b/c I don’t cook pasta as often as I should. It’s delicious in a robust and full-flavored way, so beware, those with faint hearts and tepid palates. There’s a lot going on with the creaminess of the eggs, the bacon umami, sharpness of the cheese, and pleasant little explosions of pepper granules, but this dish is so easy to make. Despite deviating from the traditional carbonara way of generating the eggy sauce, I still believe the magic is in the timing — cooking the pasta just right, sauteing the bacon long enough to let it do its thing, and most importantly, making sure the eggs do not overcook. Do all this, and you’re guaranteed one immensely satisfying peasant meal.
Bacon and Fried Egg Pasta
Adapted from Tamarind and Thyme
— serves 4-6 —
300 g pasta
8 slices of bacon (I used turkey bacon)
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, diced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook pasta in heavily salted water until al dente (5-6 minutes for my shells). Remove and drain, reserving some pasta water.
2. At the same time, saute the onions and bacon in a large saucepan with olive oil until the bacon is crisp and fat is rendered. Add garlic and saute for 30 more seconds. Remove from pan, leaving 1-2 tbs of the oil.
3. Crack eggs into the saucepan one at a time, being sure not to break the yolks. Once the egg whites have just set (some runniness in the middle is fine), take the pan off the heat (or turn to low flame).
4. Add the pasta, parmesan, bacon, garlic, and onions back to the pan. Season with a little salt and a lot of freshly ground pepper. Mix well, being sure to break the yolks to coat the pasta. Add in pasta water as needed (mine was perfect w/o it). Serve topped with more fresh pepper and parmesan.