Pasta. Crispy bacon. Salty cheese. Smooth, silky creamy sauce. Are you salivating yet? Carbonara has to be my most favourite comfort food. YUM.
It’s actually taken me years to like it, I couldn’t get over the semi raw egg. So I started making it egg-free (just cream), and then slowly I came around to it, realising you need the egg to thicken it up and get that gorgeous, glossy sauce.
I’m a bit of a purist about it now – I won’t have it unless it’s spaghetti or linguine, these penne versions of it don’t cut it for me, I think you need the long strands of pasta to distribute the sauce properly. That said, if you’re into that kind of thing, this recipe works with any pasta shape.
Be liberal with the cheese, but make sure to eschew any extra salt, as parmesan or pecorino tend to be very salty in themselves, as is the bacon, and this dish can very easily be over seasoned as a result. Go nuts with the black pepper though, it’s essential.
Creamy oozy carbonara
- 50g smoked pancetta cubes
- 75g spaghetti or linguini
- 1 small shallot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 inch piece of parmesan or pecorino, grated
- 1 egg
- 50-75ml double cream
- Splash of white wine (optional)
- Black pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
Boil kettle and prepare pasta according to packet instructions. Finely (and I mean very finely) chop the shallot and garlic. Soften first the shallots in a little olive oil, adding the garlic a few minutes later. Try not to let the garlic or onions brown or it will add an unwelcome caramelised flavour that doesn’t quite work with this dish. Once they’re softened, add a splash of white wine and leave on a low heat to reduce right down.
Next, in a new frying pan, fry the pancetta – don’t be too liberal with the oil as it doesn’t need much. Get it nice and crispy and set to one side on some kitchen paper to drain any excess fat. In a large jug, add half the cream and whisk in with the egg. Add half the parmesan to this mixture and some black pepper.
Check on the shallot and garlic mix and make sure the wine has cooked right down so there is just a little bit of liquid left. Add the remainder of the cream to this pan and remove from the heat. Drain your pasta when its ready, and then mix in the bacon, the shallots and cream, and then finally the egg mixture. Do this all over a very low heat, stirring well until the sauce just starts to thicken. If you overdo it and it gets like scrambled eggs, you can usually rescue it by taking off the heat and adding more cream. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and enjoy immediately!