Carbonara for the Soul

Today wasn’t the best day I could have had

It started pretty darn well. I’ve been suffering from a combination of asthma, allergies and a throat infection for the past week, so when I woke up this morning feeling sprightly and ready to tackle anything the day could throw at me it felt like nothing could go wrong.

Then I got to work and a series of unrealistic expectations totally stole my joy. I stumbled through the rest of the work day, and as soon as it was acceptable to do so, I escaped the office to get started on the meal I’d been daydreaming about for most of the day.

It all started with a tweet by Chrissy Teigen (I love her – so witty, such a gourmand!) on an article about her new TV show. (BTW, if you’re not already following So Delushious you can’t possibly love food.) In the article she talks about how love tastes like pasta with prosciutto and peas. I”m not sure about the peas, but the combination of pasta and cured pork sounded like love, and after the day I’d had a little love was exactly what I needed. And as an awesome guy I’m lucky to call a friend said today, cooking is the ultimate therapy.

On my way home from work I stopped by my local woolies (I swear I deserve shares in that store) and picked up some dried linguini, parmesan cheese, eggs, pancetta (yes, there were pancetta bits in stock!) and bacon. I completely forgot to get the garbage bags that were my official excuse for passing by there in the first place.

I was going to attempt a carbonara. For only my second time ever.

My fear of carbonara is more a mental block than anything else. I, understandably, get nervous whenever I have to add eggs into a hot mixture. The fear of creating rather expensive scrambled eggs is the only reason I’ve never attempted home-made custard. Today, though, I was feeling reckless enough to take the chance.

So with a quick googling of recipes for some guidance, I got started.

While the linguini (I prefer this to spaghetti because I feel it holds the sauce better) boils away in not quite enough water (laziness):

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I render the pancetta in a bit of olive oil. I added several rashers of regular bacon because bacon makes everything better. And yes, I realise that it’s not traditional to make Italian food in a wok, but I love my wok:

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In the meantime, I add my own twist to the classic carbonara recipe by chopping up some Kenya-grown spring onions:

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Which I then add to the rendered, crispy bacon and pancetta mix with a teaspoonful of crushed garlic. I drained the linguini into the sink:

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and almost instantly realised I’d made a grave error as the left-over water should always be kept aside to thin the pasta sauce if necessary. Oops.

Heedless to the pasta faux pas I’d just committed, I dumped the cooked linguini into the wok with the pancetta-bacon-olive oil-spring onion-garlic mix:

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Ooooh, puuurdy! Tossy tossy:

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…before I threw in and vigorously stirred the egg mix. Which you really should have made first. Because it’s critical that the pasta is super hot when you toss the egg mixture in. So I really hope you’re reading this through before making it so you have the time to beat one whole egg (or two eggs for a richer taste) with a cupful of grated parmesan (grate it yourself, don’t be lazy and use the store-bought pre-grated stuff) and two large dollops of creme fraiche (not traditional, but a bit of cream never went amiss):

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Stir stir toss toss! Vigorously! This step is critical – you do this wrong and you end up with scrambled eggs. And scrambled eggs with spaghetti is… avant garde to say the least. The sauce did turn out to be a bit too thick, and as I had recklessly tossed the cooking water down the drain, I thinned it out with a few generous glugs of white wine which has been relegated to cooking duty as it is too sharp to drink

I then served with a sprinkling of freshly-grated parmesan on top, some fresh-ground black pepper, and a glass of crisp white wine:

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Buon appetito friends!!!

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