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Marc informed me that he adapted the recipe from one he found in a 1980's comic book. To continue reading this post, scroll down or click here.
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And may you eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries
My husband's comic book pasta was inspired by Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, launched in 1983. Fans of this series include Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon, who hailed Flagg as a precursor to the cyberpunk genre of science fiction.
Carbonara also appears
in On What Grounds, our
first Coffeehouse Mystery,
now in its 20th Printing.
Click here to learn more.
As far as this dish's actual history, read more about it in my recipe note below...
Cleo's Comic Book Carbonara
book series American Flagg!
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Others believe the dish was created during World War II, when ingredients common to American GI's—bacon, powdered eggs, and powdered milk—were handed out to hungry Italian citizens during the American occupation. (More on the history of this dish here.) Today the people of Italy make this dish, which they call pasta alla carbonara, with raw eggs instead of cream. (The cream version is more commonly found in the USA, France, Spain, and the UK.) Italians also use pancetta or guanciale (types of Italian bacon). To each his own, as they say. And, when it comes to this mutable recipe, our favorite is below.
Comic Book Carbonara
comic book series American Flagg!
12 - 16 ounces spaghetti (usually 1 package)
8 ounces bacon (we use 5 thick-cut bacon slices)
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons heavy cream (+ a tiny bit extra, just in case)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan) cheese
(optional) Ground pepper to taste
Step 1 – Make your favorite spaghetti according to package directions. FYI - As mentioned in my note above, the colorful pasta you see in my pictures is Garden Delight spaghetti from Ronzoni. The semolina (durum wheat) is enriched with tomato, carrot, and spinach. The flavor and texture are very nice and the (comic book!) colors let our eyes eat first.
Step 2 – While your pasta water is coming to a boil, begin to make the cream sauce. Into a large skillet, slice up the bacon. We simply snip the bacon slices into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch pieces using kitchen shears. Turn up the heat to medium and begin to sweat the bacon pieces. After a few minutes, as the fat begins to render (but long before the bacon browns or crisps), toss in the garlic.
Step 3 – When the bacon is browned and cooked through (but not crisp or dry), remove the garlic cloves and drain the bacon grease out of the pan. Set aside and finish cooking your spaghetti. When the spaghetti is completely drained, set aside and finish the sauce.
Step 4 – To the pan with the cooked bacon, add a tablespoon of butter. As soon as the butter melts, stir in the cream. Simmer the mixture until it thickens. If the sauce breaks, simply add a bit more cream and stir again.
toss in a pat of butter and the cream...
Step 5 – Add the cooked and drained spaghetti to the large skillet. Pour the grated cheese over the pasta and toss...
Place a pepper grinder and a small bowl of grated cheese
on the dinner table for guests to finish their plates to their taste.