One-Upper

by Shawnda on July 28, 2008

in Pasta, Rice, and Grains

Pasta Carbonara

If I were a bettin’ girl (and I would be if this was poker night), I’d bet that you knew someone you could qualify as a “One-Upper.”

I used to work with a couple of women that constantly battled for the title One-Upper Queen. It never started innocently, either. One woman was always baited (not an incredible feat to accomplish) into sharing a story about her children and then like magic, the second woman would appear out of nowhere to talk about her children. One woman’s daughter recited Shakespeare at 8 months. The other’s son was potty-trained at 7 1/2 months. You get the picture…

The next thing you know, the women were lobbing stories at each other like grenades. There was never – never – any listening involved. They didn’t talk to each other – just at each other. The rest of us were not-so-innocent victims, but still caught in the cross-fire.

Pasta CarbonaraPasta CarbonaraPasta CarbonaraPasta Carbonara

I’m always on the look-out for a One-Upper of my own. No, not a co-worker to talk at – a better way to fix a favorite dish. I would guess that I’ve gone through 20+ recipes for chocolate chip cookies looking for The One (which in itself is funny… ’cause are they ever really *that* different?). I’m loyal to a recipe only until I find a better one, which I guess really doesn’t make me very loyal at all.

I made Nigella’s Pasta Carbonara several months ago. It tasted fantastic and as is the case with many of her recipes, it was an over-indulgent dish of calories. I hate having to relegate a dish to “special occasions only” but I really couldn’t justify adding it to our regular rotation.

We stumbled across a lighter, a more authentic version of Pasta Carbonara on What Geeks Eat. 1 egg, compared to Nigella’s 4. No wine. Creamy and indulgent without the heavy cream. With an ingredient list like that, it immediately was added to our regular rotation – and just like that, Nigella was one-upped.

Pasta Carbonara
1 lb Pasta
6 oz Pancetta, diced
1 egg
3/4 cup Parmesan, grated
Ground black pepper
Salt

Cook pasta as directed. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Place pasta in a large bowl.

Dice the pancetta into small cubes and cook until crisp. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and add to pasta. Add the egg, Parmesan, and as much cracked black pepper as you can enjoy to the bowl with 1/4 cup of pasta water. Stir and mix well. The cheese will melt and the egg and water will create a creamy coating on the pasta. Add additional pasta water, if necessary, and stir. Salt, to taste.

Yields: 4 servings

Originally uploaded by Confections of a Foodie Bride.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joelen July 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Ah… the one uppers. I’m not a fan of those types so I can totally understand. As for your carbonara, it looks delicous. Anytime a dish includes cheese and pancetta/bacon, it has to be good :)

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2 Mollie July 28, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I so agree! I love this one from What Geeks Eat. I’ve blogged about the CI one, but this one (with a dash of cream!) is my standby now. mmmmmmm

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3 Jill B July 28, 2008 at 2:58 pm

Did you see the NYT article about chocolate chip cookie tips from the pros, plus the penultimate recipe? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/dining/09chip.html?ref=dining I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list for Thursday (major deadline Wednesday night – I’ve set aside Thursday to make good desserts and Thursday night to host a dinner party where I provide the dessert and everyone else brings “food”. I’d invite, but you’re a bit of a drive to get here. :)

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4 bmk July 28, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Great story and great recipe! I’m not a fan of the one uppers either. I do like to find the best recipe and sounds like you have with this one!

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5 Food.Baby July 28, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Having tried Nigella’s recipe before I totally agree – it’s not for the fainthearted! This looks like a great alternative.

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6 peabody July 29, 2008 at 12:50 am

Well, I can’t condone no heavy cream :) , but it looks good.

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7 Sarah July 29, 2008 at 10:34 am

I just made Carbonara last week, too, but it was not nearly as amazing as yours looks. Yum!

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8 Kate July 29, 2008 at 11:28 am

This also looks like it would be fantastic cold – of course that would make me worry more about the egg….but isn’t that what mayo is anyway?

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9 little miss mel March 11, 2009 at 9:16 pm

I just made this tonight! I used half the amount of pancetta due to price and 3/4ths the amount of pasta to equal out a bit. It was lovely!!!

We added some crushed red pepper for some heat along with some shredded parm. on top. Next time, I think we’ll add some chicken just for kicks!

Thanks for the simple and easy, YUMMY recipe!

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