Being older and wise now my egg murdering days are gone but not forgotten and that might be because I've steered clear of carbonara and mastered the scrambled eggs. But when I received Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook 'It's All Easy' last weekend I was instantly drawn to the pasta and noodle recipes, more specifically the carbonara recipe. It's in a chapter called 'in a pinch'. Ha! I thought, carbonara in a pinch!? She's got to be joking. Then I read the recipe and it dawned on me that I could probably make this 'in a pinch' but would I end up with scrambled eggs again? She said it's easy, I mean she even says in the notes that 'it's shockingly easy to make' and I had all the ingredients so why not? I was kind of scared. Yes thats right. Scared of carbonara.
I could have gone for any of the other recipes that also caught my eye such as the chicken and zucchini noodle pho, ramen 4 ways- miso, spring veggie, spicy prawn, roasted pork, or the poached asian chicken salad or even the grilled cheese and easy tomato soup. All of which look amazing and mind you, don't look like your average midweek dinner but until you get reading, they are actually quite simple dishes to put together. But I'd set myself a challenge at this point and I wasn't backing down. I was going to make carbonara, no side of scrambled eggs tonight. I mean we could always have cheese on toast for dinner if I botched it up real bad.
I followed Gwyneth's instructions as if they were sacred. While the pasta cooked and my bacon pieces fried I cracked my eggs yolks and whole egg into a large mixing bowl and added grated one and a half cups of parmesan (I even measured it) and one teaspoon of freshly cracked pepper. After a slight moment of yelling at the book when the cracked pepper ended up everywhere other than on my teaspoon, I gave it a mix. I clung to every step and reread them about five times when it came time to assemble and tossed my hot pasta in the egg mixture and bacon pieces adding a tablespoon at a time of the 'hot' pasta water (mixing constantly) until I got the silky consistency a carbonara should have. I served it straight away with a simple green salad with a punchy lemon dressing.
And... it's one of the best carbonara's I've ever eaten. Yep, I said it. It was creamy and cheesy and not gluggy at all, the amount of black pepper was so delicious and bitey. I thought it was going to be too much and over powering but it matched the richness of the sauce and the saltiness of the bacon perfectly. In saying that though, if you don't like pepper I wouldn't put so much in but I loved it. And you know what? There wasn't one bit of scrambled egg in there at all. A perfect carbonara if you ask me... in a pinch and shockingly easy. YUM.
Carbonaraever-so slightly adapted from 'It's All Easy' by Gwyneth Paltrow
Serves 4 (or three greedy people)
120g of bacon or pancetta, cut into small dice
2 egg yolks (or 3 to make it extra creamy)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
340g bucatini (tubular spaghetti)
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil over high heat for the pasta.
- Fry the bacon in a pan over medium heat until crispy, 5-7 minutes.
- Combine egg yolks, egg, parmesan and pepper to a large bowl and mix well.
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente reserving 1 cup of hot pasta water (the temperature is important because you are going to use this water to help cook the egg).
- Drain the pasta and add it immediately to the bowl with the cheese and eggs, tossing immediately to mix everything together.
- Add the bacon and any rendered fat from the pan to the bowl, toss to coat, and add the hot pasta water 1 tablespoons at a time until the sauce reaches a creamy consistency (this usually take about 1/4 cup)
- Taste and adjust with more cheese, pepper or salt.