Time for some pasta fun. Last night I get a WhatsApp from my ex-college roommate Patty. She claims to enjoy the read but has no time to make the recipes on this blog… well, sure… (Patty, wtf!?) some take days, some are experiments, some take 20 minutes and I can’t think of anything worth calling a recipe under 5 but send them my way if you know of them! Anyways, fair enough, most of my recipes require time and I like to complicate things too, just because it pisses people off and it’s more fun that way. Here you go Patty, here’s a quick one so there are no excuses next time you text me! “AllalLaaan!” (that’s her little kid demanding some pasta carbonara I guess)
Close your eyes Italian purists out there. This could get ugly. I have never said that I know what I’m doing in the kitchen, especially when cooking classic dishes. I also find it almost impossible to follow a recipe or even stick to the ingredient list. Maybe this way there’re better chances of running into some happy accident, who knows, but it’s definitely more fun for sure.
This is my take.
Ingredients (makes 4 servings plus leftovers. Time: 20 mins):
500g Spaghetti (I had Fettuccine) pasta… basically the whole box.
150g pancetta, prosciutto, guanciale or bacon. Finely chopped.
100g grated parmesan cheese
100g heavy cream (some regions in Italy go there so I went there, sue me)
4 egg yolks.
1 Tbsp Olive Oil.
Freshly cracked pepper.
Splash of pasta water to adjust creaminess.
The sauce. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the chopped cured pork (whichever you ended up going with) for a couple of minutes. Render that awesome fat and get some browning going. At this point, lower the heat to low. Add the cream to cool off the skillet and bring it down to proper levels for yolk thickening. Add the cheese. Melt it. The thing with parmesan cheese is… well it doesn’t melt, not like gouda but hey, I’m definitely not using gouda here. I could get killed.
The solids in the cheese will remain solid but that’s ok. You could pre-“melt” the cheese and strain it for a creamier result. You could also cook the bacon like mentioned above, add the cheese, cook away for a like 30 secs and then transfer to a pressure cooker. Pressure cook with some water (1/2 Cup) for 30 mins which would blow up my cooking time to a place where Patty would lose interest, but come on, carbonara stock, right? Anyways, you can figure out the rest. Reduce. Cool off. Add yolks. Thicken up over low heat until creamy. Remove from heat. Add this goodness to the pasta.
Ok, forget you ever read that paragraph above. Add the yolks. stir and mix everything well. Be extra careful not to curdle the eggs. The purist approach calls for adding the eggs last and mix them into the pasta, hoping that the pasta heat will set the proper amount of cooking required. Go for it if you’re feeling skilled enough. It’s not that hard really but I like cooking the egg to proper consistency before mixing the sauce into the pasta. Either way, you go, just go with the one that seems the most fun.
The pasta. In a pot of salted boiling water, add the pasta until al dente. How salty? salty like the ocean more or less? 🙂 Strain the pasta, discarding the water (maybe save some of it in case you need to adjust the creaminess of the sauce), return to the pot. Add a drizzle of olive oil and stir. Allow to cool off for about 1 mins before adding the sauce. We don’t want the eggs to cook and curdle. Once you’ve mixed everything, if you feel that the pasta is too thickly coated, you can add some of that pasta water to adjust it.
To finish. If you have any remaining chopped cured pork bits use them to garnish your dish. Crack some fresh pepper over each serving and enjoy. I love the simplicity of this pasta and how rich and comforting it is. Italians invented yumminess. For sure.
Say hi to Jorge and Blackie, Patty! I miss that goof and that imaginary dog. Take care! Thanks, guys!
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I agree with Patty 🙂 love to read the blog though!!!
hahahah thanks Laurelea!
Think I should refrain from commenting on this one 😉
One question though: what parmigiano do you use? I use proper imported parmigiano reggiano and freshly grate it, and it melts perfectly. There is risk of curdling (as with Gouda), but no solid bits.
hahahah yes 😉 to answer your question, the cheese im using is probably not of as high quality as yours. I know parmesan cheese melts but not into a cream. Or am I under the wrong impression?
It does, but it curdles easily. The way around that is to use citras.
I’ll have to do another post on spaghetti cacio pepe; one of the ways of making that (and that I haven’t posted about yet) is to mix the grated cheese with pasta cooking water in a small bowl before mixing it through the spaghetti.
P.S. Hope you are not using ‘parmezan’ cheese that is manufactured in the USA and isn’t even actually grated cheese (e.g. Kraft).
I’ve used sodium citrate in cacio pepe and it works perfectly well but that’s pecorino, right? I will have to try again this recipe again using better parmesan cheese. You’re very likely right, the cheese I’m using is probably not the highest quality. It isn’t Kraft though 😉 Thanks for your help Stefan!
You are right that pecorino romano is the proper cheese to use for cacio pepe. If the pecorino is aged (which it should be) the texture is quite similar to that of parmigiano. Do you grate the cheese yourself?
I have in the past, I didn’t for my last recipe. I bought it grated.
thank you Karen!!!!