Thursday, 24 October 2013

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Have you ever invited people over for dinner, but then gotten so caught up in the Speech From the Throne that you forgot to make something? Then you look in your fridge and all you have is eggs, milk, spaghetti and pancetta (because you’re a fancy b*tch)?

Fear not, my culinary chums. If you have those items, (or fine, bacon, if you lack pancetta), you can make your guests a beautiful Italian dinner of Spaghetti alla Carbonara. You also need a good hard cheese like Parmesan. These are all things that a well-stocked fridge and pantry should have, so you’ll be good to go at the drop of a hat.

See how my pan isn't nearly big enough?
This is a two-step meal. Start by boiling some salted water for your pasta. While that comes to a boil, sauté your pancetta in a large frying pan (because you are going to put all the pasta in it- it needs to be quite large in order to accommodate it all). Add some minced garlic to that. Now, in a bowl, crack four eggs and whisk with a little milk and a nice amount of grated cheese. Whisk it more and set aside. (Side note- many people think carbonara is a cream sauce. Many restaurants of ill repute will just add bacon to alfredo sauce and call it a carbonara. This is incorrect and slightly shifty. It is an egg sauce, and it is creamy and amazing anyway.)

Egg mixture
This is one of those meals where timing is everything, so you need to have it together when you come to this next step. If your guests are trying to engage you in conversation at this point, this is an excellent time to tell them to open the wine in order to occupy their minds with a task so that you can concentrate. Or encourage them to choose some dinner music. Whatever. Just get them away from you.

Here we go. Drain the pasta and add it to your very big pan. Turn off the heat of the stove, and if your pan is quite hot, take it off the burner entirely. Now take the egg mixture and dump it all over. What we are trying to achieve here is a cream sauce, not scrambled eggs on pasta. To do this, you need to immediately start aggressively tossing your pasta and continue to do this until the pasta is coated. The heat of the pasta and pan will cook the eggs, and with your assertive tossing, the eggs will not be able to solidify into clumps.
I probably would have been better off with a smaller plate. 

Garnish with some fresh parsley (if you have it, which is why everyone should grow herbs in their kitchen) and serve immediately. Salt and pepper to taste. Now you can judge anyone who thought carbonara had something in common with alfredo!

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