Carbonara is one of those pasta dishes (like lasagna) that everyone thinks is sexy as hell but nobody really makes at home. It’s a buzz word for deliciousness that we (incorrectly) assume is beyond our modest culinary skills. Foolishness! While lasagna, and homemade ravioli or homemade pesto, are truly labor intensive dishes, carbonara is actually very simple to prepare. Add beaten eggs and a massive amount cheese to a skillet at the right heat and mix into your pasta at the right moment and BANG you’ve got carbonara. There are a million carbonara recipes out there, so I’m not going to rehash something you can find elsewhere. What I am going to show you guys today is my own bastardization of the concept of carbonara combined with another style of pasta cooking I find really satisfying – sauteed anchovy fillets.
I first came across this concept on Jamie Oliver’s website about a year ago. For years now I have been using pancetta or even sausage meat as the base and source of fat for my sauces, tomato and aglio olio, but I had never considered an equivalent simple-sauce-starter from seafood. On its own seafood is not high enough in renderable fat to really be a strong substitute for pork, but as Jamie explains, if you really want to affordably deepen the flavor of a sauce anchovies preserved in oil are a phenomenal choice.
Anchovies are goddamned delicious, and adding a jar of anchovy fillets (usually between $3 and $8 depending on quality and quantity) to a hot skillet is a beautiful thing. After a few minutes of sauteing, the fillets literally disintegrate into a fragrant, briney, savory gravy. Under normal circumstance after the anchovies reach this glorious stage, I add my canned tomatoes and chill out on the couch for about 20 minutes before I chow down. But instead, this recipe takes that wonderful salty goodness of the anchovy fillet and combines it with the ultra rich satisfaction of the egg yolk. In effect I’m really substituting anchovies for cheese in a classic carbonara recipe, which I’ll admit sounds wacky, but I assure you guys, this dish is just really enjoyable and comforting.