The internet is littered with 15-minute ad hoc Carbonara recipes. This is not one of those. What we have here isn’t the world’s easiest recipe, but with a little technique and a bit of patience, this Carbonara is one of the best. It’s wonderfully rich and complex flavours balance perfectly making this one of our favourite comfort foods.
First created as an Italian peasant food, a traditional Carbonara was made from five simple ingredients readily available to poor Italian farmers. Pasta, eggs, shallots, Parmesan cheese and gauncile; all items you can probably find in your modern pantry.
What’s that? You’re all out of gauncile? While if you’ve used up all your pork jowl you could probably substitute in some nice fatty bacon. And if you must, onions can substitute for the shallots. Just remember that the dish will only be as good as the ingredients you use, and in dish with only a few ingredients, quality is everything
Ingredients List: Serves 4
3 medium shallots
1 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 cup chopped gauncile (or fatty bacon)
Slice the shallot and gauncile into small cubes. Grade Parmesan (¼ cup of cheese per person) and set it aside for later use.
Place the gauncile (or bacon) into a thick bottom pot and set it on the stove over medium heat until most of the fat has rendered without browning. Turn the stove to low and add the shallots into the mix. Cook until translucent. Set the mixture aside to cool.
Boil a pot of water on and add a generous amount of salt, it should smell like sea water. Cook the pasta.
Crack eggs into a bowl and lightly scramble them.
Bring the gauncile and shallot mixture to a low heat and slowly add the pasta to the mixture, coating it evenly.
Gently mixing in the cheese and eggs, stirring continuously.
Keep stirring! The cheese will slowly melt and the egg should emulsify thickening the sauce. It may take a few minutes of stirring on low heat to bring the dish together.
Serve with garlic toast.
It is important that you use either gauncile or a high fat bacon as the rendered fat is the base of the sauce.
When tossing the pasta in the gauncile/shallot mixture, if there is not enough fat in the pan to completely coat the pasta you may add a bit of Canola oil to finish the job. Just remember to use more gauncile (or a higher fat bacon) next time.
If the egg becomes lumpy when added to the mixture it means your pan is too hot and you are cooking the egg. Just like hollandaise sauce, the goal is to emulsify the egg so that if forms a smooth and creamy sauce with the rendered fat and cheese.
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