Spaghetti alla Carbonara

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This my hungry little munchkins is one of “er indoors” favourite recipes, quick to prepare, very easy to cook and absolutely delicious!

The traditional recipe originates from Italy (it’s name comes from “carbonari” or “coalmen”) and it does not usually contain cream or mushrooms, however I think the addition of the mushrooms adds to the flavour and the cream makes a rich sauce when combined with the cheese and, helps to stop the egg from scrambling.

The quantities given are for guidance only, with a little practice you can adjust them to your liking and tweak the recipe as you will!

Feeds: 2 people
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 150 – 200g spaghetti (depends how hungry you are!)
  • 2 tbs olive Oil
  • 50g pancetta lardons or roughly chopped streaky bacon (smoked would add to the flavour)
  • 50g closed cup or button mushrooms – finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves (nice big fat juicy ones!) – roughly chopped or crushed
  • 1 medium sized onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 large or 3 medium sized eggs
  • 50g Pecorino or Parmesan cheese – grated (if you haven’t got any, grated Cheddar is fine)
  • 50ml single cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
 Method:

1.  Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta – don’t use a pan which just about        holds the pasta as this hinders the cooking. Use a nice large one where the pasta can roll around in the water as it simmers.

2. In a medium sized frying heat the oil and cook the pancetta or bacon, onion, garlic and mushrooms in the oil until nicely soft and browned. (depending on the size of your pan, you may have to cook the mushrooms separately from the rest).Set aside on a plate.

If you wanted to prepare beforehand, this mixture can be cooked in advance, cooled, covered and put in the fridge for later.

3.  In a bowl, beat together the eggs (you have taken them out of the shell I presume?), cheese, cream, salt and pepper (to taste).

4.  Cook the pasta more or less according to the packet instructions, if you wanted it kept “al dente“ (with a slight bite) start checking it 2 minutes before the instructions say it should be done.

5.  When the pasta is done, drain and return to the pan, keeping a small amount of the pasta water in case you need it later

6.  If the bacon / mushroom mixture is still warm, then keep the pan off the heat, add the mixture and the egg / cheese mix to the pan and stir the whole lot through the spaghetti, allowing the egg to cook and the cheese to melt.

7.  If you made the bacon / mushroom mix earlier, then take it out of the fridge half an hour before you start cooking (to bring it to room temperature). Turn the heat right down (you don’t want to stick everything to the bottom of the pan), stir the mixture through the spaghetti to warm it up, after a couple of minutes of gentle stirring, add the eggs and cheese mixture, and gently stir to cook the eggs and melt the cheese.

Whichever method you use, remember not to have the heat too high or cook for too long, we want a nice sauce to coat everything, not a pan full of scrambled egg!

8.  If the sauce looks too thick and stodgy add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water to loosen it up a little.

9.  Grind over some more salt and pepper if you wish, carefully place onto WARM (how many times have I got to tell you!) plates or dishes, using a pasta fork if you have one and dive in.

10.  Allow yourself a congratulatory glass of wine for your splendid efforts!

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