Pawsta Night!

| June 1, 2011 | 4 Comments
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Pasta Cabonara

Mmmm. Pasta Cabonara!

About The Author

Ric and the dogs

Ric and the dogs

I am an Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant by trade, but my life revolves around my family and dogs, photography, music and, of course, playing in the kitchen. I have been an avid outdoorsman all of my life and have had a sporting dog since I was 14. Although there has been a Labrador Retriever in constant residence in our home for 15 years, they were always just my couch and trail partners. Four years ago, my wife (Irma) decided to get into the conformation, field and rally side of things. She became heavily involved in the local Lab club. Unfortunately, she had a severe injury that really limited her mobility. I was reluctantly recruited to pick up the slack, and have since drunk the Kool-Aid and started taking handling classes. We are starting to explore the hunt test world, although I have not needed a real bird dog since I stopped practicing falconry in the late 80’s. It is extremely gratifying to watch our dogs get so excited in the field doing what they were born to do, and our friends in the field dog world are typically very gracious and helpful. We have met so many fantastic folks through our dogs!


16 oz. spaghetti or linguini (I like DeCecco)
4 egg yolks
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (Don’t think that you can use the preground Parmasan in the green can. You know which one I mean.)
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
½ lb. bacon
2 tablespoons butter
Fresh ground black pepper

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Sad News In The Retriever Life Family

It is with a great deal of sorrow that I share the sad news that Ric Fox died in a tragic accident while backpacking in Yosemite National Park. He was a husband, father, and his two Labrador Retrievers’ best friend. Ric and his wife Irma have been great supporters of our little magazine since its start. Always adding some witty comments and even a great recipe. When I last saw Ric we were at the 2010 AKC/Eukanuba National Championships. Ric, Irma, our friend Christine Tye, my wife Lorraine, and my Yellow Lab Zeus were chatting about Labradors. The joy that Ric got from his dogs could be read in his eyes as he told us about his Labbies! Ric, you will be missed but not forgotten!

As a tribute to Ric, his family, his dogs, and to somehow celebrate his life I propose we all make Ric’s favorite Pasta Carbonara recipe on July 9, 2011 and post your comments about the recipe and memories of Ric below.


I have been on a quest for the past 20 years to learn how to make a good Pasta Carbonara. I have tried many different recipes and have routinely been disappointed. Some recipes call for adding cream to the sauce and some call for using Pancetta or Prosciutto instead of bacon. The gist of this dish is a creamy cheesy pasta sauce that is garnished with bacon. My good friend, Greg, is my backpacking partner and fellow foodie. He believes that there are 2 types of food: stuff that goes good with bacon and stuff that goes good with vanilla ice cream!

A while ago, I was watching a chef in Italy on the Travel Channel. He made Pasta Carbonara and it was really simple. It has become one of my favorites. It is perfect after a day in the fields with the dogs. Particularly a crisp autumn day when you come home, light a fire, and want some simple comfort food.

Since you are using egg yolks to thicken the sauce, you will have to be careful with your temperatures so that you don’t wind up with scrambled eggs. So practice it a few times and your efforts will be well rewarded.

Putting It All Together

  • Slice the bacon diagonally into ½ inch by 2-3 inch strips and cook in a sauté pan until golden brown and delicious, then drain on paper towels
  • Put the cheese, egg yolks, a few grinds of pepper and a couple of slugs of olive oil in a bowl and stir it all together into a kind of paste. Set aside for later.
  • In a large pot, bring at least a gallon of water to a rolling boil and add 1/4 cup of kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, which helps prevent boil over. The water in which pasta is cooked in needs to be really salty. The general rule is that it should be as salty as seawater. Otherwise, the pasta will be flat and bland. Cook the pasta and drain it. If you do not have a “pasta pot” and have to drain the pasta in a colander, reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Put the pasta into the pan and add the sauce “paste”. Toss everything together. Add a couple of tablespoons of the starchy pasta water and continue to toss until the eggs thicken into a creamy, unctuous sauce. This is the part that you will have to practice until you find the right level of heat that will thicken the eggs without scrambling them. The secret to just about any pasta dish is this last stage of marrying the pasta and sauce together in a pan. By cooking the pasta and the sauce together for a minute or two, the pasta absorbs the flavor of the sauce.
  • Garnish with the bacon and serve in warmed bowls. Drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil, adding a bit more cheese if you like. You most likely will not have to add any more salt, because the Parmagiano is reasonably salty. This is the basic Carbonara recipe.
  • If you want to up the ante a little, you can add some caramelized onions and mushrooms along with the sauce, and then garnish with the bacon and some chiffonaded parsley.

Buon Appettito!

The only thing left is to pop the cork on a nice bottle of Orvietto and to put One Quiet Night by Pat Metheney on the stereo. Savor the flavor and tell exaggerated stories about how well your dogs did that afternoon.

Category : Good Eats

About the Author ()

I am one of the founders and editor of Retriever Life. My passion is Labradors of all sizes and shapes but I am a big fan of all the retriever breeds.

Comments (4)

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  1. Jeanne Karras says:

    Our sympathy to the family and friends of Ric Fox.
    And to his beloved Labbies who are wondering where their best friend has gone, God’s peace.

  2. Nancy Tanner says:

    We all mourn the death of a friend in Labradors; rest peacefully, Ric, and prayers to Irma. I will be making this dish on July 9. Hugs!

  3. Margie says:

    Toni, I love your recipes, but I sure wish I could print them out or at least copy and paste instead of having to re-type them.

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