Fettuccine alla Carbonara di Salsiccia : Italian Sausage Meatballs

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A simple dish that I love but have never made at home. It was super fun and easy, something that without taking photos and taking notes shouldn’t require more than 20 minutes to whip out! This is kind of a rich dish, proceed with caution! the basic carbonara contains about 4-5 different sources of fat: cheese, cream (not a traditional ingredient), olive oil (optional), guanciale and of course the egg yolk’s fat on top of that, in today’s slight variant of this dish, sausage as well, so really 6!  The good news is, this can only lead us to deep rich flavors and ultra yumminess if handled correctly, and by this I mean, not burning the ingredients or dropping the pan on the floor, because it’s hard to mess this up otherwise. I adapted and tweaked a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s.  One thing that can get a little tricky is getting the egg yolks not to scramble. Once the pasta comes out of the boiling water, allow to cool a bit (about 30 secs) before adding the yolks, and mix well with a pair of tongs, making sure to coat all of the pasta, the yolks will thicken up and become velvety and creamy, adding a little of the pasta water helps too. Might take some practice getting the desired texture right, but it isn’t that difficult. 

Although not a traditional ingredient in carbonara, the lemon zest brings that acidic accent that works with the richness of the dish so well, I was surprised how tasty it was. I’ve read about adding cream as an ingredient, and there are 2 schools on this one, yes and no, I added it, but would like to try this dish without it next time. One last thing to notice, this dish is just as wonderful using bacon, which is readily available in the US, it will impart the characteristic smoky flavor which is totally ok. I had homemade unsmoked bacon which is made from pork belly, unlike guanciale which is made from the pork jowls, but is there a part of this animal that isn’t delicious?? exactly… anyways I used my own cured pork meat which is rewarding in many ways and on top of that was pretty darn tasty!! I’ll stop rambling now… here’s what needs to happen:

Serves: 2 hungry people
Time: 20 minutes

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Gear:

cutting board + knife
microplane grate
some bowls for prepping your ingredients
pot of boiling water for pasta
tongs for handling pasta and meatballs
fork for whisking yolks
non stick pan for browning meatballs and bacon
2 plates or trays lined with paper towels (meatballs and bacon)

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Ingredients:

extra virgin olive oil for sautéing and garnishing
3 egg yolks
125 ml heavy cream
1 garlic clove
2 mild pork italian sausages
100 g guanciale or pancetta or bacon small dice
300 g Fettuccine
125 g grated parmesan cheese
Fresh black pepper to taste
Parsley to taste, chopped finely
1 lemon (the zest)
1 tbps sea salt

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Method:

01: prep your station, put away stuff when you’re done
02: place yolks, cream, half the cheese, zest, parsley, whisk until incorporated
03: remove sausage casings, make small meatballs, about 1 in. diameter
04: oil in pan, high heat, toss meatballs, brown evenly, 4-5 minutes
05: remove meatballs from heat, place on lined plate
06: drain excess fat from pan, toss in bacon, brown until crispy, 4-5 minutes
07: drain excess fat from pan, place bacon on the other lined plate
08: cook pasta al dente, water should be salty, about 1%-2% salt solution *
09: add little olive oil to pan, add garlic, cook on med heat for about 1 min **
10: remove pan from heat
11: bring strained pasta into the pan, toss it to incorporate the garlicky flavor
12: pour in the yolk mixture, and using tongs, incorporate really well
13: add meatballs and bacon, incorporate really well
14: add 1 or 2 Tbsp of the pasta water to the pan, and keep incorporating
15: serve and eat immediately
16: garnish: black pepper with parsley leaves and add more cheese to taste

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* on adding salt to water for making pasta, this is the source of many discussions, I don’t always add the same amount of salt for all pasta dishes I prepare, there are variables, like the kind of salt, not all salts are equally salty, the saltiness of the sauce, or the saltiness of the cheese being used… in this particular case, the sausage, bacon and cheese add plenty of salt to the dish so I’m using less salt in the water. Usual ranges go from 1% to 5% roughly… in this case i used about 1.5%, for every 100g of water I used 1.5g of salt. I used about 1000g of water, so ended up about a tablespoon. Taste the water and the pasta as it cooks, this way you can get a feel for it.

** on sauteing garlic, never let brown, brown garlic has a nasty bitter taste you don’t want to impart your food with, so be careful there. If done right, the garlic’s strong “bite” should be reduced to a pleasant level by slightly cooking it.

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5 comments

  1. I really do enjoy a carbonara, Paul. After years of looking unsuccessfully for guanciale, I now have 2 sources. I still haven’t gotten over the fact that I have it to try another meat. Still, your version here sounds delicious. With 2 kinds of pork, how could it not be? Once I get over having guanciale, I hope to give it a try. 🙂

    1. oh thanks John! I’m so glad you liked my post, I’m no expert in italian cooking, so I’m trying to do my best when I feature food I’m not familiar with, I don’t always go by the rules and definitely not trying to be a purist, so really appreciate your positive feed back!

  2. It’s clear you’re not a purist, that’s for sure 🙂 I bet this was delicious all the same.
    If you’d want to be authentic, it helps to limit the number of ingredients as much as possible.

    1. Thanks Stefan, I’ll give your recipe a shot, that’s the real deal 🙂 Would be interesting to try a sous vide version of this pasta btw, keep thinking about it for some reason. Like finishing the sauce and the pasta in the water bath to set the eggs just right.

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