• Chef Dylan

ICONIC ITALIAN CARBONARA




This classic Italian dish is a favourite of mine. The crispy bacon and rich glossy sauce coating perfectly cooked strands of spaghetti, is something dreams are made of, no more so than on a cold and rainy night. I’ve added a twist by using my Gaucho seasoning, as I believe the herbs and a hint of paprika bring a little lightness to this otherwise indulgent rich creamy dish.

Did you know? Carbonara is usually associated with Rome and the Lazio region, but as usual with many traditional dishes, its origin provokes a lot of speculation and debate. Some connect it to 'pasta cacio e uova, a Neapolitan dish of pasta tossed with melted lard, beaten raw eggs, and cheese, as documented in Ippolito Cavalcanti’s 1839 Neapolitan Cookbook. Another theory suggests the name comes from the word 'Carbonaro', which translates as “coal burner,” as they believe the dish was created as a hearty, easy-to-make meal by men working outdoors for long periods because, at the time, pork was commonly cured and eggs were easily available. Others go so far as to even trace it back to the Allied liberation of Rome in 1944, with American GIs bringing their daily ration of eggs and bacon to local restaurants to add to the limited Italian menu. Supporting this story is the first written reference to the dish in the newspaper 'La Stampa'in 1950, describing it as a dish prized by American servicemen.


Chef Dylan’s tip: If you cook the eggs in the frypan when you add the pasta, it will scramble, leaving you with a broken, weeping, and curdled sauce. Eggs will scramble at 70°C, so make sure you turn off the heat. The residual heat from the pasta will cook the eggs to 65°C, giving you a silky sauce.


The last time I had this dish was in a restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany. “I’ve booked us a table for dinner, and we’d love for you both to join us. It’s one of our favourite restaurants. I think you’ll be impressed by the food. It’s authentic Italian,” says Gav, our host, who has kindly offered for us to come and stay for a few days on a stopover. “The taxi will be here in 30 mins, and we’ve got Silke’s parents to come and babysit for the night”.


Arriving at the restaurant, we are greeted by a slightly balding burly, olive-skinned, middle-aged man, neatly dressed in a white dress shirt and black chinos. His kind, deep, chestnut-coloured eyes widen with delight. “Gav! I’m so glad to see you, my friend,” he says and instantly gives him a manly bear hug and then places his giant hairy hands on either side of Gav’s head and proceeds to plant a moustache-bristled kiss on each of his cheeks. Much to my relief, as he turns to me, he just offers his big hand and initiates by shaking mine enthusiastically. “You must be the Australian”, he says, and before anyone can answer, “Ahhh, Silke, Gav’s beautiful better half, welcome, welcome,” and with grace, he bends and gently kisses her outstretched hand, making Silke blush. His eyes meet Sarala. “And you must be the Scottish dame, I presume”, and he ceremoniously bows. “Please come in, come in”. It goes without saying the hospitality that evening was top-notch, and we all had a wonderful evening. I was reminded of how lovely it was to visit a restaurateur who really loves their work.


If you have never tried carbonara without the cream, please give this a try, as you will notice it is not quite as rich and filling, and once you master the art of a silky egg sauce, you can wow your guests with ease.


PREP TIME: TIME: 15 mins

COOKING TIME: 15 mins

SERVINGS: 2


INGREDIENTS

  • 200g streaky bacon, sliced thinly

  • 50g pecorino cheese

  • 50g parmesan

  • 3 large eggs

  • 350g spaghetti

  • 2 garlic cloves, diced

  • 50g butter

  • 2 tbsps GAUCHO

METHOD

  1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil.

  2. Finely grate pecorino cheese and parmesan and mix together.

  3. Whisk the 3 eggs in a medium bowl and season with a little freshly cracked black pepper. Set these aside.

  4. Add spaghetti to the pot, and when the water comes back to the boil, constantly cook, moving the pasta with tongs to ensure they don’t stick together, for 10-12 minutes or until al dente.

  5. While the spaghetti is cooking, add butter into a large frying pan on medium heat. As the butter bubbles up, add the bacon and cook until how you like it. Then add garlic and gaucho. Stir to combine and cook for another minute. Keep the frypan with the bacon on low heat, and when the pasta is ready, lift it from the water with a pasta fork or tongs and put it in the frying pan with the bacon. Don’t worry if a little water drops in the pan as well (you want this to happen), and don’t throw the pasta water away yet.

  6. Mix most of the cheese in with the eggs (keep a small handful back for sprinkling over later).

  7. Take the pan of spaghetti and bacon off the heat. Now quickly pour in the eggs and cheese.

  8. Using the tongs or a long fork, lift up the spaghetti, so it mixes easily with the egg mixture. This thickens it into a sauce but doesn’t scramble, make sure everything is coated.

  9. Add extra pasta cooking water to keep it saucy (several tablespoons should do it). You don’t want it wet, just nice and glossy. Season with a little extra salt, if needed. Us chefs love our salt.

  10. Use a long-pronged fork or tongs to serve into a large bowl or twist the pasta onto a serving plate.

TO SERVE


Serve immediately with a little sprinkling of the remaining cheese and a few extra cracks of black pepper.