I cooked a Taliatelle Carbonara over the weekend as we were entertaining some friends. Here's the recipe and my thoughts on making a good Carbonara.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- Home Made Fresh Tagliatelle (a recipe for another day)
- 1 small pot single cream (I think they're around 300ml from memory)
- A handful of Italian hard cheese, grated (Parmesan or similar)
- 4 rashers smoked back bacon, fat removed and diced
- 1 egg
- Ground black pepper
- Herbage (I used Tarragon or Basil, depending on what I have/like at the time)
It's worth remembering Carbonara is a creamy sauce not a cheesy sauce so use enough cheese to give a good flavour but not overpower the whole dish. This would very much depend on the cheese you get and particularly if you switch away from Italian cheese. I like to use single cream where most Carbonara recipes used double, for me I prefer the reduced fat content and find that double cream can make the sauce too thick. The last thing to say about the ingredients is about the Bacon, use the best quality you can get. I prefer to go for the added flavour of a smoked variety from my butcher but you could equally use green bacon, if you go with cheaper cuts from the supermarket you may need to add more (their rashers are much smaller). Again, I use back bacon to help with overall fat content and remove most of the fat before cooking.
If you're using dried pasta you might want to start that off first. For home made, make the Tagliatelle before you start.
Make the carbonara sauce before you start to cook. Put the egg into a bowl and whisk lightly just to mix. Add the cream to the egg and stir together. Add lots of black pepper and the cheese, and have a final stir to complete the sauce.
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the bacon, you can cook longer for crispier bacon or shorter as you prefer. Add your herbage at some point while cooking the bacon as you prefer. Most recipes will have you add the bacon to the Carbonara sauce and use the heat of the cooked pasta to heat the sauce and cook the egg. Personally, I prefer to remove the bacon pan from the heat and add the carbonara to the bacon in the pan, this should better ensure the egg gets cooked and results in a hotter meal...
If you're working with fresh pasta, start that off about now. Remove the bacon from the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding the Carbonara sauce to the pan. Return on a very low heat to warm the sauce, this should help the egg thicken the single cream too. Be careful not to boil the mix, if you do boil you risk the sauce being way too thick and possibly lumpy. It's better to leave the sauce slightly less thick than you would ideally want as it will thicken even more when it hits the hot pasta!
Meanwhile your pasta should have been cooking, so drain it and return to the pan it was cooked in. Pour half the Carbonara onto the pasta and stir. Serve the pasta mix into your pasta bowls. Pour the remaining Carbonara over the top. You can garnish with more black pepper, grated cheese or herbage as you like.
Serve with a dressed green salad and/or garlic bread. Yummy, enjoy!!!