Friday, July 9, 2010

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

I've had carbonara sauce when I was smaller from the glass jars they sell at the supermarket. I remembered a delicious creamy white sauce with bits of bacon and mushroom in it. I realised I had the ingredients to make an authentic version yesterday, so I went ahead and made it. Authentic Italian carbonara contains no cream, although the recipe I used wasn't completely authentic because I did not use an expensive bacon (such as pancetta or guanciale), and I added garlic.

The creamy texture is achieved my beating eggs and pouring it into the cooked spaghetti while it is still hot, to cook the egg and turn it creamy. One hazard is that the pan or spaghetti is too hot and the egg immediately scrambles, ie. cooks too much and solidifies. That surprisingly didn't happen to me, seeing as it's my first time making it.

The spaghetti carbonara was delicious. It was rich and creamy, and studded with bits of crispy bacon. Top with black pepper (you must - it's the rules) and parmesan, and you've got yourself one of the best pasta dishes ever.


Obtained here

Serves 4-6

500g dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
100g pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips (I used double the amount, and used cheap bacon)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (good parmesan), plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (about 5L of water and 2 tsp of salt for this recipe), add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian "al dente.") Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.

3. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.)

4. Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

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