Saturday, January 23, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara - made January 23, 2010 from Modern Classics Book 1 by Donna Hay

Lest you think all I've been doing is baking, I have been doing some real cooking as well. This is one of the easiest recipes in Donna Hay's cookbook and bless her for making it so easy even I could make it. It's supposed to be Fettuccine Carbonara but since I'm prejudiced against fettuccine noodles, I used spaghetti instead.

The trick with carbonara is you have to have your mise en place ready because as soon as the noodles are done, you have to move fast. Carbonara uses egg yolks and they're cooked only from the heat of the noodles tossed in the yolks-cream-parmesan cheese mixture. Done correctly, you get a nice creamy coating of sauce on your pasta. Done incorrectly, you get bits of cooked egg mixed in with the noodles or raw egg. Fortunately, I did it correctly this time. I had the sauce ready and as soon as the noodles were drained, I dumped them in a bowl, covered them with the sauce mixture and started tossing (mixing) the noodles into the sauce. Steam was still rising from the bowl by the time I was satisfied and added the hot ham and green onion mixture.

Carbonara usually calls for bacon but I used extra-lean ham instead. I like bacon but it's a pain to cook (and all that grease makes me shudder) and I figure eating a pasta dish that already has egg yolks, heavy cream and cheese didn't need the added fat and calories of 6 rashers of bacon too. Needless to say, carbonara is not for the faint of heart (literally) or the calorie conscious. Which is probably why I like it but don't make it that often. If you do go for the bacon variety, reserve some of the crisp bacon and crumble it on top of each serving. Donna Hay says this recipe serves 4 but again, it seems more like 6 - 8 servings to me.

14 ounces fettuccine or pappardelle (I used spaghetti)
6 rashers bacon or 10 ounces smoked ham, cut into thin strips (I used extra-lean ham)
3 green onions (scallions), sliced
4 egg yolks
½ cup cream
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese (I used shredded parmesan cheese)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and keep hot.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon and green onions for 3-4 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and golden.
3. Place the egg yolks, cream, parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk well to combine.
4. Toss the egg mixture through the hot pasta, coating it well, then toss with the bacon mixture and parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 4

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