A couple of days ago, I managed to impress someone with my Carbonara. Not just anyone, mind you. An actual Italian! I know, thank you, very proud.
While very impressed with my version, my Italian friend told me that cream isn’t traditionally used in Carbonara, but he couldn’t tell me what was instead. Intrigued, I asked if his mum had a recipe she would share with me, and alas she had. She even typed it up and handed me a perfect copy, underlined bold headers and all, so that in my recipe binder there is now one stainless recipe on crisp white paper nestled against oil-stained paper clippings I tore out of glossies, sticky notes with faded handwriting flowing around a phone number my mum took down but forgot who it belonged to, the backsides of bank statements from 2003 which happen to be my father’s favourite notepaper source by far, and a page torn from my grandmothers’ 1950s cookbook with my mum’s comments added on at least ten different occasions, judging from the changing handwriting and different pencil colours she used. Like me, my mum could never just follow a recipe without tweaking it at least a tiny bit, which now leaves me to wonder which of her eight different “Nicht gut!! Besser
90 50 dag! — 1 Ei reicht (oder 2?)” instructions I should actually follow.
You can probably tell by now that if my house was on fire and I could save one thing only, it’d be the recipe binder. Screw the millions, I’ll go for the recipe binder thank you very much. Not that I have millions. Anyway, I digress.
This is probably the easiest, quickest and best carbonara recipe I’ve come across so far, and the substitution of milk for cream makes it a lot lighter, too, so no afternoon slump to be feared.
Give me a perfect, authentic, straight-forward recipe and I’ll toy around with it. Sorry about that. I can’t help it, it’s my genes, you know?
So here we go, this is my version of my Italian friend’s mum’s recipe and thus what could have been the most authentic Carbonara recipe you could hope to find, had I not changed it up. Apologies. If you don’t like it, it’s my fault. I promise you would have liked the original.
For two: Cook 160 g Pici (very thick eggy spaghetti. Just because I can’t have enough eggyness going on in a carbonara) in salted water. Fry a handful of cubed bacon in a dry pan, the bacon releases quite a lot of fat anyways. Crack two eggs open, saving the whites for your dinner (frittata, anyone?) and add the yolks to a big bowl. Add salt, pepper, a bit of nutmeg, two tsp milk and 6 tbsp grated parmesan (grate a bit more and save for topping), whisk together and wait till the pasta is ready. Actually, don’t wait, get going: You’ll want everything ready before you drain the pasta, so pour a glass of water, lay the table or get your sous-chef to do it for you (while he’s at it, let him marinate and serve the side salad as well) and ready the plates.
Pasta timer going off? Right. Quick as you can, please. Drain the pasta, add it to the big bowl where the yolks have been waiting – quick stir (using two forks works best I think) – add the bacon cubes – quick stir – divide it onto two plates, top with grated parmesan and yell at your sous-chef to come serve it.
Or do it yourself, if you’re that type of enlighted, modern chef.