Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Buono!: Carbonara Sauce

Thank you to a reader for the Buono! question about carbonara sauce. She wrote, "I'm fascinated by carbonara recipes (egg yolks vs. whole eggs/ cream vs. no cream or broth). Would love to read how you do pasta coal miner's style."

I followed this recipe for carbonara sauce from Under the Tuscan Gun almost exactly. (Don't you love those two? Their videos crack me up.) I didn't have any spaghetti on hand, so I used a package of strozzapreti pasta (whose name translates to, "priest choker." Yikes.)

This creamy sauce is known as "coal miner's style" because the black pepper flakes look like the (hopefully apocryphal) coal that flaked off of the miners when they prepared these simple dishes. Traditionally, there isn't any actual cream in these sauces. The creaminess originates from the combination of grated cheese, slowly cooked eggs (mostly yolks), fat from the pork and water. The recipe calls for the water to come from the pasta water (the water serves to thicken the sauce because it is starchy from the pasta.)

You know I'm not a purist. I invite you to change the recipe anyway you see fit. If you are hesitant to lightly cook (and eat so many) egg yolks, you can cheat and use cream. Substituting broth for the water would add more flavor, although I'm not sure that's necessary with the garlic and pork. I wouldn't use too much broth because without the starch, it might thin the sauce too much.

If you choose to use a lower fat pork (bacon, pancetta or guanciale), you might need more oil in the sauce. I used a thin, lower fat bacon and added some extra olive oil. Butter or margarine could work, too.

A friend emailed me her mother's recipe for this dish and it included vegetables (mushrooms and peas.) I imagine that the result is delicious and I look forward to trying that in the future. I also think we would have enjoyed some hot pepper (dried or fresh) on top.

Next time! There's always a next dinner.

What's your secret to a good carbonara sauce? Share your answer below in the Comments section.

No comments: