Friday Fuck Up: The Carbonara Scramble

carbonara scramble 006

My boyfriend couldn’t have been happier. I brought pig into the house. Thinly sliced, smoked pig. Bacon. Bacon. Bacon.

The oven was home to our first usage—bacon baked quickly and at a high temperature for an evenly cooked crisp. We bit at the bacon in between bites of eggs and toast. A simple introduction.

We thought we’d keep it easy. Let bacon flavor an angel hair carbonara.

I looked up a few recipes on Epicurious and understood, well, thought I understood, the gist of a carbonara.

Cook bacon. Remove bacon. Cook onion in its grease. Boil Pasta. Combine parm and egg in separate bowl. Combine hot pasta, onion, bacon and parm-egg mixture. Toss. Creamy deliciousness.

Of course, it wasn’t that simple. My carbonara got fucked.

I followed directions at the beginning, but along with the (red) onion I added diced (purple and red) peppers and garlic. Things were going well. The whole wheat angel hair cooked quickly, but in enough time for me to stir together 2 eggs, parm cheese and ricotta. I borrowed a tip from another recipe to let the eggs warm by placing them whole (in shells) in warm water. I have no idea if this contributed to the overall problem, but this must have brought additional heat to the equation.

Everything is set. I checked back to the directions. And misread them, causing fatal damage to the dish.

When the pasta finished cooking, I scooped it right into the onion mixture, which was on low heat. I mixed the pasta around, added arugula, parsley and the cooked bacon and then poured the parm-egg mixture on top of the pasta on the HOT pan.


This right here is what fucked up the dish. The residual heat from the pasta is supposed to melt the eggs. Direct heat to the eggs scrambles them instead. So there it is. (See picture above for clumps of egg.)

A dish oft messed up, as confirmed by ES Senior Italian Correspondent tvff. Usually I can’t identify what went wrong, particularly with baking, but this mistake is evident.

I am however, up for hearing fixes. Can I just simply take the pasta to the “cold” bowl of the parm-egg and everything will work out okay?

We have 12 more slices of bacon.

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  • Jason Sandeman October 15, 2010  

    Ironic how the little things that seem so simple can be complicated. In restaurants what we do is toss our pasta into the pan, flip it a few times, pull it off the flame, then put our Parmesan/Egg mixture into the pan and flip the pasta so it combines.
    What you could di is transfer your pasta to a bowl, then pour your Parmesan egg mixture and toss it through. I also sometimes add a few drops of the pasta water to help with the creaminess.
    I hope that helps you out.

  • Steff October 15, 2010  

    I’ve actually seen my Italian friend do this! She takes the hot pasta and pours it over a warmed (not cold–I think she puts it in the oven for a bit?) bowl of egg mixture and then works quickly. She doesn’t do the egg in the pan at all.

  • BS October 15, 2010  

    can you just pretend you were making a breakfast pasta? It’s 8am and I could definitely eat that whole bowl right now.

  • Linnea Covington October 15, 2010  

    The best, most traditional carbonara recipe I found was from Sauver. Follow it to a TEE (save the extra veggies for your side salad) and you will be in pasta heaven. Check out my blog post about my Roman meal, which links to the recipe as well as some other gems.

  • Linnea Covington October 15, 2010  

    Rule: Don’t comment before coffee. READ: Savuer. Oops.

  • Caitlin October 15, 2010  

    I always just drain the pasta (not too well – the residual pasta water helps make for a creamier sauce), let it sit for a minute or so to cool a bit, then dump into the bowl of eggs. I never warm the eggs (that would be thinking ahead!). Just toss them together right when you put the pasta in, then I add any extras (bacon, parsley, etc) once the eggs have coated the pasta.

  • Linnea Covington October 15, 2010  

    Or Saveur. Geeze. I am on a roll today.

  • Linnea Covington October 15, 2010  

    OMG, what a spaz. SAVEUR. Geeze. I am on a roll today.

  • Terri October 15, 2010  

    I’ve done this a few times myself. It may look icky, but it still tastes good. How bad can eggs, bacon, onions, parmesan and pasta be??

  • Borracho October 15, 2010  

    @gansie: I have seen your thoughts on bacon elsewhere and I believe that both you and 80p deserve the next application to be praline bacon….. Chopped up pecans and brown sugar sprinkled over almost finished cooking bacon and then tossed in oven for another 5 minutes…..With breakfast or a scopp of Maple Ice Cream, mmmm

  • OMGYEAHYOUKNOWME October 15, 2010  

    So funny, I have a friend from France who I cooked with when we were living together a while back and we were crapping around the kitchen looking for things to make a pasta sauce with. We had spaghetti, a powder that was supposed to make an artichoke soup and two eggs and a few tablespoons of milk. Talk about eating down the fridge. We had NOTHING else in the house except for salt. I was at a loss – my French friend not so. As I boiled the pasta she whipped together the rest of the ingredients, then dumped them into a frying pan on very low heat and stirred for about 10 seconds and then combined with the pasta. I was astonished at the perfectly creamy concoction. A perfectly creamy artichoke carbonara sauce. I tried to repeat the recipe a year or so later… utter failure. I think it must be genetic.

  • Stu October 15, 2010  

    While the pasta is cooking, I warm a kettle, and put the boiled water into a glass bowl. I let that sit for a little bit, and right before the pasta is finished, I dump out the water, dump in the egg and parmesan, and beat it immediately. The warmth of the bowl cooks it a little, but not enough to scramble it. I then immediately toss in the pasta and mix it up.

    I had problems with this initially because I didn’t warm up the bowl. Putting it all into a cold bowl and relying on the heat of the pasta to cook it was less successful.

  • LimeCake October 17, 2010  

    this has happened to me way too many times. now i just err on the side of undercooking, just so the eggs don’t scramble. i think your pasta still looks damn good!

  • Kim @ The Nourishing Cook Blog December 8, 2010  

    I use only the egg yolks and not egg whites, preferably from pastured eggs as they are bright orange and usually bigger. It’s harder to ‘scramble’ the yolk than the white. Of course it’s possible though and removing from direct heat is also good and putting it into a heated serving dish before adding the egg yolk/cream mixture. Temper it with pasta water before pouring over.

  • Sharon mihlethaler August 23, 2013  

    Did everything correctly,panicked and put pan on heat…….it curdled….so cross.know my man will eat it anyway! For me I’d start from scratch,but no more expensive Parmesan in kitchen! Seriously thinking of making white wine,cream sauce to pour over,but I guess the horrible scrambled bits will still be there!

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