The personal stories and adventures of a nerdy food lover.

Challenge alla carbonara

Earlier this week I was asked by another blogger, Jennie (check out her blog at Ohh, honey!), to post a carbonara recipe. I’ve never made carbonara before so I took this request as a personal challenge. I thought to myself that if I was going to honour this request, I better bloody do a good job of it, so I started doing a little research. But what I found was a bunch of recipes with a conflicting mash of ingredients. Not really off to a great start. That’s when I turned to my wonderful Manager at work (who just happens to follow my blog – hi!) for advice. My Manager and her husband are both Italians, so I figured either one of them would be able to help. I found out that authentic carbonara doesn’t actually have cream in it. It’s amazing how many carbonara recipes actually list cream as an ingredient. My Manager tells me that it’s the alla panna that has cream it, not carbonara. OK, so now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get to the recipe.  By the way, this took me less than 20 minutes to cook and serve, so it’s great for when you are low on time and/or motivation. Jennie, this one is for you :). This recipe serves two people.

Challenge alla carbonara
1 tbs oil
6-8 slices of parma prosciutto, roughly chopped
½ small red onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 eggs
200g fettuccine
½ cup lightly packed, freshly grated Pecorino
2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped

Bring to the boil a large saucepan of water. Once the pasta is boiling add a little salt to the water and cook the fettuccine according to the packet’s instructions.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the prosciutto starts to crisp up. Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is soft and translucent (this will probably take another 5 minutes).

Remove the prosciutto, onion and garlic from the pan. If there is a fair bit of fat in your saucepan, spoon some of it off until there is about 2 tablespoons left. Add about 1 tablespoon of the pasta water to the saucepan to deglaze the bottom, use a wooden spoon to scrape the caramelisation off the bottom of the saucepan.

Beat the eggs in a pouring jug or small bowl and set aside.

Once the fettuccine is almost al dente, put aside about ¼ cup of the pasta water and drain the rest. Transfer the pasta to your smaller saucepan and over medium heat; use a wooden spoon to stir the pasta so it becomes coated with the deglazed liquid. Cook for another minute until the pasta is al dente. If the pasta seems to dry, or is sticking to the bottom of the saucepan, add some of the reserved pasta water. What you want is the pasta and the bottom of the saucepan to be just wet, that way you don’t scramble the eggs when you add them.

Remove the saucepan from the heat; pour the eggs over the pasta, stirring quickly and continuously until the eggs thicken to form a sauce. This should take about a minute. You need to stir quickly and keep stirring as this will stop the eggs from scrambling.  The sauce should now be smooth and creamy. If the sauce seems really thick, stir in some more of the reserved pasta water to loosen it. When you have the desired consistency, stir in the pecorino and then the prosciutto mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle chopped parsley over the top and serve immediately.

Note: I love how the eggs end up being a really nice creamy sauce. There isn’t really a need to add cream to this and I’m not sure why people even started adding it. I have made some amendments to the original recipe that I found online. If you would like to see the original recipe, click here.

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9 thoughts on “Challenge alla carbonara

  1. ciao! your blog is a luvFAB.

  2. My daughter asked me to make carbonara the other day. It’s a wonderful dish. Easy to make and the flavours are wonderful! 🙂

  3. Something told me to check you out when I saw your name on another blog!
    A cousin from the Italian side is coming for the Thanksgiving holiday and I just happen to have a ‘butt end’ of prosciutto that I picked up relatively cheap at my fave Italian store.I was wondering how I was going to use it.Thanks; it’s bookmarked!!
    Just a little observation…people change recipes all the time, and take lazy shortcuts.The term ‘Marinara’ sauce means “Of the sea” , as in clam sauce. The way people use it for any meatless sauce drives me nuts. Now,I see,people are often using the term ‘Napoli” sauce, which is infinitely better on my nerves. People use sugar in their tomato-based sauces; unnecessary if you simmer the sauce long enough.
    I am going to do some more scouting around your blog!

    • Thank you for stopping by my blog! I agree that there are a lot of misconceptions out there about certain dishes and it doesn’t take much these days, which was why I thought I’d get some advice from my Manager (being Italian and all) to see what the real deal is.

  4. Great that you made carbonara without cream! I hate to bring it up, but Carbonara is made with pancetta (cured pork belly) or guanciale (cured pork jowl) and not with prosciutto. Here’s my version:

    • Yeah, I don’t think cream is needed at all. I did know that the original version uses pancetta or guanciale (the recipe I linked to below does mention it), but sometimes you just have to work with what you have on hand. That’s what I love about cooking; being able to experiment 🙂

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