Friends, I can’t believe I’m giving away this secret. This is my bad-day-at-work comfort food staple that is so simple, it’s pretty much a ratio in and of itself, yet it impresses everyone I serve it to. Make it for one when you’re needing a pick-me-up, make it for two when you want to thank your husband for tiling the basement steps without your help, make it for four when you want to thank your husband, your dad-in-law, and your uncle-in-law for rewiring the basement and foyer lighting without your help. Everyone wins with this one.
Makes one serving
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- Black pepper to taste; I put about a half teaspoon into mine, but for less spice-addicted palates, start with 1/4 teaspoon and see how it goes
- 1/4 cup diced pancetta
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- White wine, chicken stock, or even rosé or red wine if that’s what you have in your fridge. If you’re out of ALL of those, check the back of your liquor cabinet to see if there’s any ancient vermouth
- 1/4 lb. spaghetti (one-fourth of a box; my preference is spaghetti rigati or bucatini rigati, because the pasta strands have little grooves that soak up the sauce so well)
Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil for the pasta.
As the water heats, find a wide-bottomed bowl for tossing and serving the pasta; it should have a lot of surface area. Crack the egg into the bowl, add the parmesan and black pepper, and whisk with a fork to make a thickish egg-and-cheese paste. Set aside.
In a small skillet, heat the pancetta over moderately low heat until the fat is rendered and the pieces are crisp, about 5-7 minutes. When the meat is looking good, add the garlic and sauté for a minute to mingle the flavors. Add just a splash of wine to the pan, a little less than a shot glass’ worth. Stir to deglaze, getting all those good browned bits off the bottom and into the sauce. Remove from the heat.
Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and while it cooks, add the cooled pancetta and its sauce to the egg and cheese mixture in the serving bowl. Drain the al dente pasta into a colander and shake briefly and gently; the spaghetti needs to be piping hot and a little drippy with its cooking water as it is poured into the serving bowl.
Pour the spaghetti in and mix well; the heat from the noodles and the retained pasta water will cook the egg and meld everything into a luscious coating for the strands.
Taste for seasoning before eating; the dish might need a little salt but the Parmesan and pancetta usually take care of the saltiness factor on their own. Also note that this makes outstanding breakfast leftovers, should you manage not to eat the entire bowl in one sitting.