The first rule of cooking club is don’t talk about cooking club

We need to work on my sisters Blackberry photography skills. Even so, this looks damn good.

In my adult life I’ve been single for about three weeks. Seriously. I turned 18 on August 25, 1995, began dating (or whatever passes for dating in college) in late September and that was that. As a result, I’ve never made regular practice of cooking for one person.

On the flip side is my sister Marlo. She loves to cook and does so regularly, but as anyone who loves being in the kitchen will tell you, it’s no fun cooking for one. Plus, it’s not like you can buy single portions of a chicken to roast or a half-bunch of spinach. My sister has thrown a couple of epic dinner parties, including a pre-Thanksgiving dinner for (I think) 20 people. It’s quite an undertaking, as anyone will tell you, but I think my sister sees the same cathartic return in preparing a meal.

Marlo and her co-worker Hayley have decided to branch out and break free from their respective comfort zones. Each week they are trying a new recipe or entirely new dish to them. Their Cooking Club, as they call it, is a neat idea that will benefit both of them.

I couldn't find the one where Giada overanunciates Pahn-CHAY-tah. (FoodNetworkHumor.com)

They didn’t divulge last week’s maiden voyage, but last night’s week two meal is a personal favorite — spaghetti carbonara. I’m a big fan of cured meats, particularly the Italian ones. Pancetta is a versatile ingredient, adding flavor to any dish as well as the starter fat to the pan. This is a big deal because if you’ve already melted the fat from the pancetta, you do not need extra oil.

Yes, this dish includes raw egg. If you are of the belief that our food chain has become so mismanaged and broken and get squeamish from the thought of salmonella poisoning, then this isn’t for you. If you are okay with the fact that the hot pasta will heat the egg through, you’ll really like this dish.

Spaghetti Carbonara
By Marlo Paventi & Hayley Prim

  • 1# spaghetti
  • 1 tb extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz pancetta, sliced into small strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish

Cook pasta to the directions on the box. Reserve a half-cup of water before draining.

In a bowl, beat the eggs together with your grated cheese so that you have a smooth, non-lumpy mixture.

Preheat a skillet on medium and add your olive oil. When it shimmers, add the pancetta and cook until well-browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and onions and cook 3-4 minutes until the onion is soft.

Drain the pasta and add it to the pan, tossing to coat the pasta in the rendered fat and pancetta. Cook 2 minutes, then dump into the egg wash. Toss well to coat the pasta. This should thicken the egg sauce, but don’t stir it up so the eggs scramble. Add pasta water to thin the sauce out, then grind a liberal amount of pepper and stir again. Garnish with parsley and serve hot with extra cheese.

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