Red Wine Carbonara
I can only name one person I've ever met who doesn't like pasta-- a kid in elementary school. He also hated chocolate with a passion, so something had to be wrong with his taste buds. Those are hands down two of the best foods in the world.
Speaking of both pasta and chocolate-- the other day, my parents pointed out something. Whenever my best friend comes over, we always make pasta of some kind, because she is obsessed with noodles. I mean I am, too, but she really has an insane love for noodles.
When my other best friend comes over, we always make some sort of a chocolate mess-- hot chocolate, chocolate covered strawberries, brownies, cookie dough, or even just melted chocolate that we dip random food in. We both in love with chocolate... like crazy.
So, my parents pointed out that they always know who is over when they come home to either see noodles and pasta sauce left out or melted chocolate coating the entire kitchen.
And that honestly couldn't describe my friends and me better. You should see it when all three of us are together...
Anyway... This pasta!! It's literally cooked in red wine. YUM!
A lot of inspiration went into making it. I first heard of "red wine pasta" when I was watching the Tastemade Snapchat story and there was a recipe video of it featured that day. The guy kept it really simple with just shallots, olive oil, salt, and pepper... but there was no way I could keep it that simple. I actually tried making the pasta the simple way (surprisingly, with the chocolate-lover friend), but something was missing. That's when I came up with the idea of Red Wine Carbonara. I actually posted my testing of it on the Apricots and Sage Instagram a while back for a little sneak peak. P.S... Go give my Instagram a follow if you haven't to stay updated on the blog!
I've never been a huge fan of Carbonara, but I think that's because I've just haven't tried a great one yet. I've only had it twice, and both times were just... ehh. I think I just hype it up in my head so much because of all the components: creamy cheese, thick noodles, and salty & crispy pancetta... how could that not be amazing, right??
You can see where I talked about one of the experiences here.
Even though I've never loved a bowl of Carbonara style pasta, I still thought it would be the perfect way to spice up the red wine pasta a little bit.
The morning before I attempted this recipe, I was reading my new book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking and realized just how important all of those components are. Sure, I knew how to salt pasta water and how acidity helps brighten up a dish, but it really taught me so much more. I highly recommend checking out that book if you're into cooking-- and especially gastronomy (like me).
But let me tell ya, the acidity from the red wine, fattiness from the bacon, salt from the parmesan (and pasta water), and heat from one, the temperature (obviously), and two, the spice from the crushed red pepper will completely satiate every little one of your taste buds.
By the way, it is SO important to salt your pasta water enough in this dish. Don't skimp on it. That's the number one thing I've learned from reading that book: You should NEVER be afraid of salt. Just learn which type of salt to use and when to use it.
I've never made Carbonara before, so it took a couple of tries to perfect the "sauce" without ending up with a plate of scrambled eggs and greasy noodles. But after a few tries-- and lots of help from Food Network and "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat"-- I think I created a pretty tasty bowl of pasta.
Oh, and the best part about this pasta? The noodles are PINK!!!
Red Wine Carbonara
- 1 lb. bucatini pasta
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 large garlic cloves- minced
- 6 slices thick cut bacon or pancetta
- 3/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs (room temp)
- 2 tsp. + 1 tbs. fresh thyme (roughly chopped)
- salt and pepper to taste
- parmesan for topping
Bring a pot of water with a palmful of salt to a boil. Add pasta and let cook until ALMOST perfectly al dente (about 6 minutes). Let strain and set aside.
Whisk together the eggs and parmesan until combined. Set aside.
Cut bacon into about 1-inch strips horizontally and cook in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once most of the fat has rendered off, and the bacon looks crispy-ish, turn the heat off, add the garlic cloves and 2 tsp. fresh thyme and cook in the heated fat until fragrant (a few minutes).
While the garlic and herbs are "cooking," pour the wine in a large pan/skillet. Add the noodles and cook over medium-high heat, tossing frequently, until all wine is absorbed/cooked out. This will also finish cooking the noodles.
Immediately add noodles the bacon fat/garlic/herb mixture and toss. Pour in the egg mixture and stir immediately, so the egg doesn't scramble. Having the heat turned off will allow this not to happen.
Add in salt and pepper to taste, and the rest of the thyme. Top with more grated parmesan.