Carbonara is just one of those words that makes people’s stomachs sing, minds drift off and tastebuds salivate… or it that just us?
As wildly sumptuous as it can be, the humble pasta dish is often made incorrectly, meaning you’re denying yourself a world of even greater pleasure.
And you wouldn’t want to do that to yourself, do you?
Of course, if you really want to impress, you can make your own pasta. There’s a deadly masterclass taking place in Dublin on Friday 26 and you can find all the details here.
So, here’s a few tips and tricks for you to get stuck into before prepping your next dish.
Pretty soon, you’ll be able to bestow upon yourself the rightful title of Count Carbonara, Princess of Pasta or Tsar of Spaghetti.
1. Always, always salt the water
This is an easy one to forget but salting the water increases the boiling point, meaning that it takes longer to come to the boil. Also, salted water adds flavour from the inside out as it is absorbed during the cooking process.
While pasta dishes are often based around the sauce, the pasta itself is the foundation upon which you build your flavours. So salt it up.
2. It’s getting (sort of) hot in here
Place your frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the pancetta and cook until crispy.
This adds a wholly different and delicious element to your dish, adding both texture and flavour. When the pancetta turns golden and crispy, swiftly remove it from the heat.
Add the drained, cooked pasta to the crispy pancetta and return to the heat.
Slowly add some of the cooking water and stir the pasta continuously to avoid sticking. This should only be done over a medium heat for a minute or two to remove excess water.
3. Egg is the word
The next step is the most important part of the method and is where a lot of people slip up. Add eggs, pecorino and parmigiano cheese to a small bowl and whisk until well combined.
Remove the pan from the heat, then add in the egg mixture and toss well until eggs have thickened. Bear in mind that the residual heat will do most of the work here.
If the mixture is too thick, you can add additional reserved water. Do not place the mixture over the heat, otherwise your eggs will scramble.
4. Yolk it into ya
The benefits of using just a yolk are far greater than using the whole egg, whites and all.
The flavour is more refined, the consistency is richer and creamier and you’re left without any egg-white residue at the bottom of the pan.
Good news all round!
5. No meat? No problem
Vegetarians can also enjoy the velvety goodness that is a good carbonara. While the easiest option is just leaving out the pancetta or bacon bits, this removes a textural element that really adds to the dish.
For a vegetarian version, you can add diced courgette in place of the meat. Or, if you find peas more pleasing, chuck them in instead.
There you have it, the perfect carbonara…and not a dash of cream in sight!