It may surprise you to know that authentic Italian carbonara has No Cheese. I learned many years ago from the late, great TV chef, Kieth Floyd in his Italian odyssey that true carbonara is simply bacon and eggs with pasta. Many British restaurants serve over-cooked spaghetti covered in cheese sauce with a few bits of ham. and call it carbonara.. this couldn't be further from the real McCoy.
As it's Boxing Day...You can use leftover ham from Christmas in place of the pancetta or streaky smoked bacon.
I use this recipe when I don't have much time to cook and when my kids have friends round at short notice. It takes the same time as throwing a pizza in the oven the kids gobble it up!
It's a great meal to make with children as it's so easy.
It takes around 10 to 15 minutes depending on how long your chosen pasta takes to cook. The quantities really aren't all that important. You can use cooked ham or unsmoked bacon if you prefer. This recipe makes enough for a family of 4 but you can stretch it to 6 by adding more pasta.
1 Clove of Garlic
Pack of smoked bacon or lardons (6-8 slices).
(Vegetarians can use "This isn't bacon or you can cook this without bacon at all, just add a little extra salt)
Enough spaghetti or penne pasta for 4-6
1 or 2 eggs (beaten)
Salt & a generous grind of blackepper
Parsley and/or savoury seasoning of your choice (Such as vegetable bouillon)
Italians often add cream for a treat.
Grated cheese can be used as garnish if desired
Prepare a large saucepan of water with a teaspoon of salt. Bring water to the boil whilst preparing the next stage of the recipe. (A good fitting lid will speed up the heating process and you will use less gas or electricity too.
Cut the fat off the bacon with scissors and snip it into very small pieces.
Slice the garlic clove in half diagonally. Put a little Olive Oil into the bottom of a large non-stick frying pan and rub the cut ends of the garlic all over the base of the pan before turning on the heat. (You can keep a jug of Olive Oil by the stove and place cut garlic cloves into this, it will make delicious garlic flavoured olive oil for future recipes or salad dressings).
Turn on the stove heat to high under the frying pan and stir-fry the bacon while your pasta water is coming to the boil.
Add pasta to the saucepan of water and turn the heat down to medium.
Prepare some vegetables to serve with the carbonara while the bacon and pasta are cooking. I usually steam some broccoli and carrots for around 6 to 8 mins over the boiling pasta. The pasta should be cooked to "Al dente". (with bite).
Once the bacon is crispy, turn off the heat.
Drain the pasta and add to the bacon pan. Stir pasta and bacon together, turn the heat back onto medium. Once the pan has heated up, add the beaten egg and vigorously stir into the pasta bacon mixture. The egg will cook as you do this and you will see bits of omelette sticking to the pasta. Add seasoning to taste at this point.
Serve with vegetables on the side. It also goes very well with a green salad.
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