At the beginning of this week, a rare and beautiful thing happened. I was down at the bottom of the financial barrel, waiting for a check in the mail. I went to check my bank account before buying a few groceries. To my astonishment, my bank account balance had shot up into the 4-digit range. Baffled, I looked into the transaction history to see a deposit from ASCAP – my very first royalty payment from my first feature film. What a miracle. Could not have come at a better time.
Of course, this called for a celebration. And how does the starving artist celebrate? Food, of course. One of my favorite indulgences is carbonara, which is essentially bacon, eggs, and cheese. What could possibly be bad about that? Not only is it wildly unhealthy, but it is not really that cheap, particularly when you’re adding shrimp. This is what I call a “payday” recipe – the kind of recipe you make when you’ve just gotten paid and have a little extra money to burn. But I’m still the starving artist – payday doesn’t mean you have to spend ALL your money. Pasta is always cheap, the cheese I got fresh at Trader Joe’s for $4, eggs were on sale for $2/dozen, and the shrimp I got from my local market for $8.99/pound. Is it the best quality shrimp ever? No, but it is by no means the worst and worked brilliantly in this dish. And speaking of cheese, never EVER use the cheese in the green can you find on the same shelf as the pasta. If you’re going to do that, you may as well just make some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and call it a night. Fresh grated cheese is always always worth the extra cost. Many grocery stores will grate their own cheese and sell it in plastic containers either in their fresh/gourmet cheese display or with the pre-packaged cheeses and usually for a really reasonable price. Trader Joe’s is great for this, of course. Also, you may find recipes that call for cream – I call BS. Unneeded. Copout.
Moral of the story: this recipe is a knockout. And the good news is that you can just leave the shrimp out entirely. Not only would that make it an everyday kind of recipe, you’d still have an outstanding meal you could use to get yourself a husband. And believe me, this recipe is a husband finder: rich, gooey, full of bacon…. honestly I can only make this dish for special occasions because every time I eat it I feel like years are being shaved off the end of my life. It’s THAT rich and indulgent. But honestly? It’s kind of worth it.