Carbonara

Serves 4 | 20 min

Ingredients

100g bacon (or pancetta), small dice
200g pasta, dried
25g smoked mushroom garum
4 large egg yolks
100g Pecorino Romano, finely grated
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste

Method

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt so that the water tastes seasoned, but not “salty”. (If in doubt, err on the lower end of the spectrum - you can add salt later to the finished pasta, and the bacon will also contribute some salt, too).

In a medium-sized saucepot, add the diced bacon and begin to render over low heat. (The bacon should sizzle but not spit. The goal is to release the fat out of the bacon without achieving a dark color).

When the fat has rendered, remove ¾ of the bacon from the pot and put into a large mixing bowl - big enough to comfortably fit all the pasta you will be cooking. With the remaining bacon, turn up the heat and cook until crispy. Transfer this bacon to a separate bowl. Reserve the fat as well.

Add the garum, egg yolks, and pecorino cheese to the mixing bowl, as well as a generous spoonful of the bacon fat. Mix these ingredients well to form a paste.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and stir to ensure it doesn’t clump together. Cook the pasta at a steady boil until just under al dente. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta water to an empty cup or bowl and set aside. Drain the pasta through a colander and shake gently to release excess water. 

Slowly add drops of the hot pasta water to the mixing bowl containing the eggs and stir vigorously. When the mixture has loosened and is no longer a stiff paste, add the cooked pasta along with some freshly ground black pepper and mix well to coat the pasta in the egg mixture. If the pasta is a bit dry, add a bit more pasta water to loosen the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. When the pasta is well coated in a silky, velvet of garum & egg mixture, transfer the pasta to 4 serving bowls and top with freshly cracked black pepper, the crispy bacon pieces, and a spoonful of grated pecorino. Serve immediately.

Note:
If the sauce doesn’t thicken enough after a minute of stirring, have a small pot of boiling water on hand and place the mixing bowl over the pot to gently bring the temperature of the sauce up and thicken the sauce. Be cautious with this step; if the heat is too high, the sauce will scramble. 

Variations:
To make the carbonara vegetarian, pan fry some assorted mushrooms in oil until deeply browned and crisped. Treat them as you would the bacon in the recipe above. Alternatively, slice halloumi cheese into large cubes and pan fry them until crispy and browned all over.

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