Italian, Pasta, Pork

The Best Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves: 6

Where does one start?

Spaghetti Carbonara is that dish that divides more than any spaghetti dish. Cream or no cream?

Or mine is the best or that is the best?

This is the traditional or this one is even more traditional?

Or that Italians don’t even do Spaghetti Carbonara and it is an invention of the Americans: Italians don’t do pasta like this.

I don’t mind a cream-based Spaghetti Carbonara and how couldn’t you? Anything with pasta and cream – at its best – is amazing.

Though it isn’t traditional in the sense that I cannot find any pasta Italian cookbook of mine that asks for even a touch of cream.

Equally though, I can’t find a Carbonara in any of these books.

Which I think means that Carbonara definitely shouldn’t have cream though it probably isn’t an Italian invention either.

Which leaves us here: what is the best ‘traditional’ Carbonara recipe.

For 8 years straight until he was 18, for his birthday, my middle brother Adrian asked nothing else of me than that I cooked this pasta for his birthday.

This recipe was something my mother would do after a day on our boat and as kids, and it simply never failed to wow us.

After years and years of telling Nat this Carbonara was the best she would ever have, she finally let me make it.

And Nat – and the boys – agreed, this is simply the finest Carbonara that exists.

This truly is the best Spaghetti Carbonara you will ever cook.

And this is from someone that makes a point of ordering every time it is available.

THE BEST.

Ingredients

9 slices bacon, trimmed and julienne
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp butter
½ cup julienned ham (or prosciutto)
12 tbsp grated parmesan
6 eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Spaghetti

Method

  1. Brown the bacon and pour off any fat.
  2. Cook the spaghetti.
  3. Add the olive oil, butter and ham and saute for 5 minutes without browning.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and beaten eggs, Place over the heat only to sufficiently to firm up the sauce.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the spaghetti.
  6. Serve with more grated spaghetti.
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Asian, Vegetarian

Kylie Kwong’s Egg Fried Rice

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really delicious fried rice and with some sliced chilli, it is a meal in itself.

It is quick on all fronts, it isn’t greasy and it subtlety means it will pair with pretty much anything.

You’ll be asked to cook this again.

Ingredients

6 eggs
⅔ cup finely sliced spring onions
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp finely diced ginger
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
4 cups steamed (Jasmine) rice
1 tbsp light soy sauce (extra)
1 ⅓ cups finely shredded Chinese cabbage leaves

Method

  1. Place eggs in a bowl with spring onions, soy sauce and ginger and beat lightly with a fork to combine.
  2. Heat oil in a hot wok until it starts to shimmer. Add the onion and toss for 30 seconds. Pour in the egg mixture and leave to cook for 10 seconds before folding the egg mixture in on itself and lightly scrambling for 1 ½ minutes or until almost cooked through. Add rice and extra soy sauce and stir fry for another 1 ½ minutes, breaking up the egg into smaller pieces.
  3. Toss in the cabbage, stir fry for another 20 seconds, combining well.
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Italian, Pasta

Ravioli al sole with Truffle Butter broth and Pecorino

 

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Stupefacente!

Serves: 2 – 4 as a starter

Late last year, I typed up Armando Percuoco’s Truffle Egg Pasta, a gorgeous – and outrageous – pasta made famous at his restaurant, Buon Ricordo.

In my write-up of the recipe, I said do it and certainly, if you haven’t, I still highly recommend you do.

Though if you have, here is your next recipe along the same line.

It is from Tobie Puttock from whose book The Chef Gets Healthy we have been cooking recently. This recipe however, isn’t about getting healthy.

It’s about living the good life.

In his foreword, Tobie explains that he was taught the recipe by Gennaro Contaldo who in turn is famously Jamie Oliver’s Italian mentor; Tobie ran the restaurant Fifteen for Jamie Oliver.

So there is also a bit of heritage to it all as well.

Anyway, we cooked this as a starter a few weeks ago and it is excellent. Actually, more like superb.

Truffle, pasta, butter, ricotta, pecorino and egg superb. Poaching the egg in the stock after blanching the pasta in the boiling water is a neat trick with the ultimate treat being a runny, yellow egg yolk opening up all over the pasta as you eat it.

Yum!

For by-far the best result, make your own pasta and have a fun afternoon in the kitchen like we did. And an incredible starter on your hands following that.

Do it!

Ingredients

⅓ cup (80gm) fresh ricotta
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp grated pecorino, plus extra to serve
100gm salted butter, softened
1 tbsp truffle oil (or 2 tsp truffle paste)
40cm thin fresh pasta sheet
4 free-range egg yolks
300ml vegetable stock

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Place ricotta on a lined baking tray, season then drizzle with 2 tsp of olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes or until slightly browned and dry. Cool. Mix ricotta with pecorino, 2 tsp olive oil and a pinch of talk and cover and chill until needed.
  2. Combine butter and truffle oil (or paste) in a bowl. Cover and chill until needed.
  3. Lay pasta flat on a bench. Cut into eight, 10cm squares. Shape ricotta into 4 rounds. Place each one in the centre of 4 pasta squares. Lightly flatten the ricotta with your palm and with your fingers, make a deep well in the centre. Pop an egg yolk in each well.
  4. Brush a little water around the pasta edges then carefully top with the remaining pasta sheets. Use your fingers and a fork to seal the pasta, pushing out as much air as possible while taking care not to break the yolk.
  5. Gently heat the stock in a large frying pan over a low heat. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
  6. Plunge the ravioli into the boiling water for 45 seconds then carefully remove with a slotted spoon and place in the stock, egg yolk side up to finish cooking.
  7. Add truffled butter, in pieces and gently shake pan for 3 minutes until it melts into the stock and the pasta is al dente.
  8. Season, divide ravioli and sauce among bowls, then top with extra pecorino.
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Side, Vegetarian

Rockpool’s Peas with slow-cooked egg

Serves: 6 – 8

Nat and I served this as a side to Rick Stein’s wonderful Escalopes of Salmon with a Champagne and Chive sauce; we also served Rockpool’s twice cooked, thick, hand cut chips.

Rather than use tinned peas, we used frozen peas which would have reduced the intensity of the pea taste; next time, I’ll make the effort and use tinned peas. Also, rather than do the egg in a sous vide, we poached it for a few minutes.

(I’ve typed up the recipe this way, though by all means, if you have 2 hours, place your egg in the sous vide at 60c and gloat.)

This is a really effective side with no end to variations; lardons of jamon, stewed tomatoes, pecorino cheese shaved on top, mascarpone, whatever.

Better still, this dish shows you give a damn about serving dinner, complete right to the edges and sides.

Serve with steak, a braise or fish and show your guests that tinned peas didn’t in fact die in the Great War!

300g tinned green peas, drained, liquid reserved
1 egg
¼ c extra virgin olive oild (plus extra for drizzling)
1 French shallot (eschalot)
2 anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove
½ dry long red chilli
180ml white chicken stock
lemon juice to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chiffonade flat leaf parsley, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Poach your egg so the yolk will run.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the shallot, anchovy, garlic and chilli and sauté until soft and sweet. Add the peas, 2 ½ tbsp. of reserved pea liquid and the chicken stock.
  3. Flatten the peas with the back of a spoon and cook until they are soft, the liquid has reduced and the mixture has thickened. Season to taste with the lemon juice and salt and pepper. Stir through the parsley and spoon onto a serving plate.
  4. Very carefully crack the egg on top. Season to taste, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with the extra parsley.
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