When most of us think of carbonara we think of a creamy sauce with oodles of bacon and mushrooms poured over steaming tagliatelle, served with a generous hunk of garlic bread. But while your mouth is watering at this image, Italians the world over are turning their backs in disgust.
A traditional carbonara recipe does not include cream, mushrooms or garlic bread and usually comprises of spaghetti, not tagliatelle but it is still a delicious creamy dish that is surprisingly easy to make.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1 pound of spaghetti
4 large eggs
8 ounces of pancetta (you can buy cubed bacon in most supermarkets, that will do the trick)
1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup of grated Pecorino (Grated parmesan will work for this recipe instead of these two cheeses)
Add spaghetti to salted water and cook as per packet instructions. Cook until it is al dente (just cooked) rather than soft.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a frying pan and sauté the bacon until golden.
In a small bowl whisk the eggs and cheese until well combined.
Drain the pasta, keeping half a cup of the cooking water. Add half of this water to the bacon and toss in the spaghetti, stirring over the heat until the bubbles subside. Most of the water will evaporate.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly until the eggs thicken. The heat from the already cooked food will cook the eggs and prevent them from scrambling. If the sauce is too thick add the rest of the reserved pasta water.
Season with pepper and salt if needed and serve immediately.
Cooking just like an Italian has never been easier and this recipe is the perfect way to impress your housemates and fool your parents into thinking you are finally a grown up.
(Original text published in An Focal 19 February 2013 and online http://www.anfocal.ie/lifestyle/6497/cookery-corner-spaghetti-carbonara)