Monday, January 17, 2011

Coal Miner's Spaghetti a.k.a. Chicken Carbonara

This dish probably originated sometime before World War 2. Many American troops were stationed in Italy during that time and this dish was favorited. I imagine it was created by a witty heavyset Italian woman named Luciana, who grew her own vegetables in the garden behind her rustic little villa....well that's my version.

Adapted along the way and popularity driven, Coal Miner's Spaghetti, or Chicken Carbonara was brought home and is a flavorful pasta dish with a not-so-traditional cream sauce. This version is a super easy weeknight zap of Coal Miner's spaghetti combining the simplest of ingredients, onion and garlic, chicken, pasta, and a creamy cheese sauce flavored with bacon.

*Note: I typically don't make a lot of bacon, but I highly recommend using real bacon and real bacon fat for this dish. It gives it that punch of flavor this dish needs. Traditionally, its made with pancetta, but if you can't find or don't have it on hand bacon is the next real deal.*

1 package (7 ounces) spaghetti
8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream

Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.

While spaghetti is cooking, cook bacon in 3-quart saucepan over low heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove bacon from saucepan with slotted spoon; drain. Drain fat from saucepan, reserving 1 tablespoon in saucepan. Cook onion and garlic in bacon fat over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in spaghetti, chicken, cheese and whipping cream. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Toss with bacon.

If you are anti-pork, vegan, or vegetarian, you can use a touch of oil to saute the onion and garlic, and omit the bacon all-together.

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