The best pasta dish on the planet, I reckon, could only be the glorious Carbonara. It exemplifies everything great about Italian cuisine – simple, quick and with an emphasis on quality ingredients. It can be deceptively tricky to perfect however; too much heat when adding the eggs can result in scrambling them instead of gently cooking them to get the desired silky smooth sauce. There is definitely emphasis on quality ingredients here, as my own dry-cured bacon takes centre stage! I love using my bacon in a simple recipe like this, as the flavour can really be appreciated.
My favourite way to have this meal is to make the sauce fairly runny, so that a lovely gooey creamy sauce collects at the bottom of your bowl. Each forkfull can then be stirred through this sauce to get it well coated before shoving it in your mouth with gusto, licking your lips and greedily going for another mouthful. This should not be done with any attempt to look dignified – just enjoy it!
Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe (Serves 2)
Put the kettle on to boil for the pasta. Peel and finely chop ½ an onion and 1-2 garlic cloves and set aside. Chop 80-100g of streaky bacon (preferably smoked) and fry in olive oil in a large frying pan or pot (it will need to be big enough to mix the pasta and the sauce together before serving). Get a pan of boiling water, add plenty of salt and a glug of olive oil and keep it simmering. When the bacon just starts to turn crispy, add 250g of spaghetti (or any other pasta shape) to the boiling water. When the bacon is nice and crispy, add the onion and garlic to the pan along with a knob of butter. Turn the heat down and leave to cook gently. Now make your sauce: in a jug, whisk 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of single cream, 30g of grated parmesan cheese and a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper. When the pasta is al dente, drain it, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the pan with the bacon and briefly stir (this helps to cool everything slightly to avoid scrambling the eggs). Now pour in all of the egg-cream mixture and mix everything together thoroughly. The residual heat from the pasta and bacon will gently cook the eggs and melt the cheese, resulting in an amazingly rich creamy sauce. Add some of the pasta cooking water to achieve a more fluid consistency. Keep stirring until the sauce is silky and smooth, then serve and eat immediately.