Monday, October 27, 2008

Pasta Florentine

This recipe is an attempt to add socially redeeming value to my infamously rich Pasta Carbonara. What ought to be a simple matter of tossing eggs, bacon, and cheese with hot spaghetti invariably fails to satisfy me. I always end up with a pot covered with scrambled egg bits and unseasoned pasta. My compromise - a very, very rich alfredo sauce with egg whisked in at the last minute, garnished with bacon - is good, but not for the faint of heart. When I was young and foolish, I'd use a full stick of butter(!) in this thing; I've scaled back on the butter and added the greens to save my arteries as I get older. As it stands, this is a meal that you'll want to serve to your friends... but not often. Not if you want to keep them.

Pasta Florentine

8 oz. linguini or spaghetti
8 oz. (one full bag, if you get it bagged) baby spinach
1 cup heavy cream
2 T butter
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan (approx. 1/2 oz whole)
6 slices thick-cut bacon
2 eggs, beaten
salt and white pepper to taste

Pluck all the stems from the baby spinach. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the spinach in batches and stir constantly until wilted. Remove from heat and place over a paper towel.

Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch thick strips and brown gently over medium heat. Drain off the bacon grease and place the bacon crumbles on a paper towel. Boil the pasta in 2 quarts hot water until al dente; Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain, and rinse the pasta with cold water in a collander.

Take the reserved spinach and, using either your bare hands or paper towels, gently wring out the excess moisture into the sink. (It should be cool enough to handle by now.) Chop coarsely and set aside.

Over medium low heat, bring the cream to a very gentle simmer. Add the butter and stir until fully incorporated. Add the cheese, a small handful at a time, and stir until melted. Pouring in a slow steady stream, whisk the egg into the hot sauce. Continue to whisk over high heat until the sauce lightens from a lemon to a vanilla color and regains its thickness; if it becomes too thick and stands up in the pot, add a little reserved pasta water to thin it out. Salt and pepper to taste. Put a small (no more than 1/4 cup) of sauce over each pasta serving, garnish with bacon crumbles and chopped spinach, toss, and enjoy.

Serves 3-4

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