Tuesday, May 4, 2010
This is the meal I turn out when there is no food in the house, no cash in the bank, or no energy left in my tank. Cheap. Fast. Easy. The ingredients are basic pantry/fridge/freezer items, and the sauce can be whipped up in the time it takes the pasta to cook. Remember to keep your vegetable trimmings to make stock.
But don't let that devalue your idea of this dish! If this was served up to me as a Carbonara (it's not really a carbonara) in a restaurant, I wouldn't complain. I'd even pay for it, and order it again. This gets dished up to unexpected visitors, suddenly starving 3 year olds and boys with seemingly hollow legs. Even the removal guys who made the 18 hour trek from Victoria to Queensland with my kitchen gear were rewarded for not breaking anything with this.
I know it's not a true carbonara, no pasta puritan would 'spoil' this classic with cream, cheap wine (goon), onion, ordinary bacon (as opposed to the traditional guanciale - cured pork cheek), mushrooms, dried pasta and garlic. This disrespectful brat would though. Perhaps it should just be renamed... Anyway, here it is, and it's good.
Spaghetti not quite alla Carbonara
500g pasta (spaghetti and fettuccine are standards)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g bacon, diced
200g mushrooms, sliced
250ml dry white wine
handful of fresh herbs - chives or parsley work well
salt and pepper
parmesan or pecorino to serve
In a large pot, bring enough salted water to the boil to allow all the pasta to move freely. Cook the pasta according to packet directions.
While pasta is cooking, whisk the egg and cream together and season with salt and plenty of freshly cracked pepper. In a pan, saute onion, garlic, mushrooms and bacon until lightly browned. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and cook until most of the wine has reduced.
Drain the pasta, and add the bacon mixture to the pasta, followed by the egg mixture and fresh herbs. Toss the sauce through with tongs to evenly coat all of the pasta. The heat of the pasta should be enough to thicken the sauce and cook the egg, if not, return to a very low heat for a few seconds. It wont be thick, but will be enough to coat the pasta. Grate in as much or as little parmesan or pecorino as you like. Chow down straight away!
What else you could do:
Of course, make your own pasta! Obviously it wont be so fast, but it is SO worth it.
Use UHT cream or evaporated milk.
Add other veges - beans, peas, spring onions or whatever you have lurking in the fridge or garden.
Include some diced chicken breast or thigh, cook off in batches before the onion/bacon mix.
Double or halve the recipe to suit your family.
Note: This doesn't reheat too well. If you must reheat it, don't be tempted to use the microwave. The sauce will split and you'll have oily lumpy pasta. Blergh. Heat in a saucepan, veeeery slowly, and don't boil it.