Most of us fry our bacon in a skillet, but I prefer to lay it out on a rack set into a rimmed and parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet and bake it in the oven. That way the bacon cooks more evenly. Also, it doesn't curl up and make a greasy mess of the stovetop. Then again, if you insist on making this a true one-pot meal, you can cook the bacon in the skillet before adding any of the other ingredients, and substitute some of the bacon fat left in the pan for the butter in the recipe.
This recipe's one unconventional technique is cooking the spaghetti in a skillet rather than a big pot of boiling water. Just take heart knowing that both the Spanish and Mexicans use this same technique. First, the pasta is toasted in oil in the skillet. Then the liquid is added and the pasta is simmered until it is al dente. Why bother with this method? Because the pasta picks up more flavour this way.
You add the eggs when the pasta is just about finished. They need to be cooked over medium-low heat, stirred constantly, and pulled off the heat the minute they're done so they don't overcook and get tough. The breadcrumbs are the finishing touch; half are mixed into the pasta and eggs, half are sprinkled on top. If you can't resist the temptation to add some cheese, you can always substitute some Parmesan for the crumbs.
Once you try cooking pasta this way, I'll bet you invent all sorts of variations to add to your line-up of weeknight dinners.
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (40 minutes active)
8 ounces bacon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (made by pulsing homemade-style white bread in a food processor; you will need about 4 slices)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
12 ounces spaghetti, broken in half
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
6 large eggs, lightly beaten with a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 375 F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment or foil, then set a wire rack over it. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the rack and bake on the oven's middle shelf until crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bacon from the oven and set aside to cool. Crumble the bacon.
While the bacon is cooking, in a large nonstick or stick-resistant skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are golden and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and toss with a hefty pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Wipe out the skillet and set over medium, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add the pasta to the skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until light golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the stock, water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes (the liquid will reduce by about two-thirds).
Make a well in the centre of the skillet, add the eggs and cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, until the eggs are just scrambled. Remove from the heat, return the onions and half of the breadcrumbs to the skillet and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, then divide among 6 serving plates. Top each portion with some of the remaining crumbs and the bacon. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 590 calories; 280 calories from fat (47 per cent of total calories); 31 g fat (13 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 265 mg cholesterol; 670 mg sodium; 57 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 21 g protein.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals" and has written three cookbooks, including "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners."Suggest a correction