Spaghetti Carbonara

   In Spain, I am told, there is a region where free ranging pigs are fattened on wild acorns.  Their hams are then air cured for months to make Iberico Ham.  It is kind of like Italy's proscuitto, but richer and smoother in flavor.   It's so rich and sweet that it's best sliced really thin so the flavor does not become overpowering.  The paper thin slices practically melt in your mouth.  It's amazing.  It also makes a great flavoring to add over pasta, in soups, and such.  The reason I bring all this up is that the Dominican Republic, being an ex-Spanish colony, also has a ham making tradition. 

   The glory of this traditional air- cured ham is perhaps best appreciated at "El Museo de Jamon".  Which translates to "The Museum of Ham".  It's not actually a museum.  It's a restaurant in Santo Domingo which serves the finest of Spanish hams in it tapas platters.   One meal there had me searching the city for good Dominican ham.   The manager at the Ham Museum suggested a grocery store and recommended the "El Cid" brand. 

   I didn't have the courage to show up before Kathleen swinging a whole ham (with little piggy hoof still attached!) so I ended up buying a big 3 pound slab to play with in the kitchen.  At a price less than half what I'd pay for Proscuitto at a grocery in the US, it was a pretty good buy, and tastes even better.   After several delicious lunches and snacks consisting of little more than morsels of shaved ham and some bread, I got creative and made a terrific Carbonara with it. 

 

1 # spaghetti

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

# Iberico, Serrano, or Proscuitto ham  (or preferably, El Cid ham from the Dominican Republic!) 

2 Shallots, minced

2 Cloves garlic, minced

2 lg. eggs

black pepper

C grated parmegiano cheese, + extra for table

 

Boil spaghetti in water until al dente. 

Mince ham, chop shallots and saute in olive oil.  Add garlic and cook a few more minutes.   Cook only until starting to crisp, then set aside.

 Break eggs in bowl, mix, add pepper.  Drain pasta and put in bowl with eggs.  Mix thoroughly, then add the ham, shallots, garlic and drippings.  Toss, add cheese & serve immediately.