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Chris Hennes

Carbonara: Most riffed-upon dish?

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I just started into The WikiGullet Project article on Carbonara which set me to thinking about the subject. It seems to me that at least in the English-speaking world, carbonara is among the most riffed-upon of all Italian pasta dishes. For example, Modernist Cuisine has TWO recipes for it. I don't remember EVER seeing it in a US restaurant made with guanciale, and usually not even with pancetta: the US preference seems to be for bacon. It's often made with Parmesan, sometimes even to the exclusion of Romano altogether. Peas? Broccoli? The list goes on and on. Anyone else notice this particular creative attention to carbonara, or is it my imagination?

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Haven´t had the chance to see it in the U.S. but Italy has a perfectly "legit" Artichoke Carbonara. Fewer eggs and pancetta, lots of pan-fired artichoke chunks. Heaven.

L


hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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P.S. Italians do use cream in their carbonara. You can either use "tempered" raw eggs, or cream but not both - ever. Though this may not be the original application, it is very popular today.

Guanciale, Smoked Pancetta (not "sweet") and Bacon are all fine - only in the classic Amatriciana sauce there is a requirement for Guanciale.

The role of abundant black pepper should not be overlooked.

Please do not rely just on English-language websites and resources to give you a true definition of Carbonara. If you read the history of it, you will learn that the original was probably made with Bacon brought by American soldiers during WWII!

This might be helpful - the Italian entry from Wikipedia on carbonara translated in English:

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fit.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FPasta_alla_carbonara

Having lived in the U.S. for 25 years, I can confirm that the bacon version is out of this world (though you do need to pour off some of the fat because so much more is released from bacon vs. pancetta).

Ciao,

L


hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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I think carbonara provides a pretty good base for various additions -- I'm about to riff on it tonight w ramps. But otherwise, my version is pretty classic -- even with homemade pancetta.

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Chris,

What shocks me is the number of places I've seen it on a menu without black pepper.

In my thinking, riff-away to your hearts delight, but at least keep an excuse to call it 'carbonara'.

$0.02


PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

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This brings up the whole issue of misnamed dishes. Eg a Turkey Reuben that has no kraut Russian or Swiss. Nothing reubenish about it.

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

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When I saw the title my mind went immediately to Caesar salad and fettuccine Alfredo. The original concept seem to have taken a severe beating in recent years.

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Chris,

What shocks me is the number of places I've seen it on a menu without black pepper.

In my thinking, riff-away to your hearts delight, but at least keep an excuse to call it 'carbonara'.

$0.02

I noticed that one too. There are only few restaurants or places that I think serves really good carbonara here in my place. :) I wonder how carbonara tastes like in Italy. :)

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I'm not sure these count as riffs - more like a little extra tremolo. These two are (rough, experimental) riffs.


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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Chris,

What shocks me is the number of places I've seen it on a menu without black pepper.

In my thinking, riff-away to your hearts delight, but at least keep an excuse to call it 'carbonara'.

$0.02

I noticed that one too. There are only few restaurants or places that I think serves really good carbonara here in my place. :) I wonder how carbonara tastes like in Italy. :)

The worst restaurant carbonara I ever ate was at a sidewalk cafe in Florence: there are bad restaurants all over the world, Italy doesn't get a pass on that :smile:. Heidi, I think you are definitely right about Caesar salad, that's another one where you have to order it realizing you have no idea what's actually going to show up. I don't know about Alfredo: most places seem to at least have the courtesy of adding a modifier to the name if they are going to add something to the dish, e.g. "chicken fettucini alfredo" etc. My observation with Carbonara is that is not the case: the riffs all seem to go by the name "Pasta alla Carbonara."


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I think this 'riffing' is a natural consequence on the simplicity and popularity of a dish. Just think of the mac&cheese craze going on now (though I don't see anyone going crazy over that for not following the original recipe, perhaps because it's traditionally low brow, or perhaps because it's american, and everyone knows american dishes are fair game as opposed to european ones where, should you be so unlucky as to add a pinch of salt, there's probably a frenchman around the corner ready to cut your toes off).

I like pizzaglias short note that, even though presumed a longstanding traditional dish, it may have more recent and diverse origins.

In any event, I've always had carbonara the way mom made it (Norwegian, in case a reference to a mother might mislead imaginations to old black-clad hunchbacks dragging a jug of grappa up a cobblestoned hill): bacon, egg, parmesan (or if caught unprepared by whiny children, the famous italian cheese Norvegia).

The point is, I've always considered carbonara as an inspiration rather than a strict rule set, and that's how I've experienced it in restaurants as well. I also enjoy making things carbonara-esque, such as spicy tagliatelle stirred with creme fraiche, smoked salmon and chevre (yes, I am aware that I may be historically accused of starting WWIII from my kitchen).

In any event, one thing I find certain is that you can't make something and even remotely cite carbonara inspiration without a good amount of black pepper.

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Bolognese sauce. So much debate on the vegetables you use (type and quantity--onions, leeks, celery, carrots), the amount of tomato (or whether you include any at all, whether you use homemade sauce or store bought passata or canned tomatoes or concentrate or fresh), other cooking liquids (red wine? white wine? milk? a combination thereof?), the kind of meat, the presence of cured pork products (bacon, pancetta, mashed up sausages, even salami), the cut of meat (finely ground, coarsely ground, roughly chopped, cooked as a whole joint [shank, say] and then shredded), other additions (mostly umami boosters--Vegemite, mushrooms--but I've also seen people add things like fresh chilli and curry powder before).


Chris Taylor

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I would have thought that pasta with red sauce would be even more riffed than carbonara.

Sugo di pomodoro or salsa di pomodoro is fairly simple until you get to America. Did that just sound snooty? There's a reason for that. :hmmm:

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Bolognese sauce. So much debate on the vegetables you use (type and quantity--onions, leeks, celery, carrots), the amount of tomato (or whether you include any at all, whether you use homemade sauce or store bought passata or canned tomatoes or concentrate or fresh), other cooking liquids (red wine? white wine? milk? a combination thereof?), the kind of meat, the presence of cured pork products (bacon, pancetta, mashed up sausages, even salami), the cut of meat (finely ground, coarsely ground, roughly chopped, cooked as a whole joint [shank, say] and then shredded), other additions (mostly umami boosters--Vegemite, mushrooms--but I've also seen people add things like fresh chilli and curry powder before).

Chris, the Italians made defining Ragu alla Bolognese easy. They registered the recipe in the annals of government as part of preserving our culinary "heritage." There may be many Ragu´s, but only one "official" Bolognese!

http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=it&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fit.wikibooks.org%2Fwiki%2FLibro_di_cucina%2FRicette%2FRag%25C3%25B9_bolognese&act=url&act=url

I was able to replicate it in the pressure cooker, with only the addition of one cup of water. I could only cut the cooking time down in half because the sauteeing and evaporation of each ingredient to create layer upon decadent layer of flavor are steps that cannot be skipped.

There is no need to debate about what´s in the original. ;)

Ciao,

L


hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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I would have thought that pasta with red sauce would be even more riffed than carbonara.

Sugo di pomodoro or salsa di pomodoro is fairly simple until you get to America. Did that just sound snooty? There's a reason for that. :hmmm:

The flavor of my same old recipes that I cooked in the U.S. improved 100-fold when I moved here (in Italy) and started using Italian ingredients. Finally, my husband began to concede that now "it tastes just like mamma used to make" - hearing those words spoken by an Italian man is a miracle.

I used to have to grow my own zucchini (to harvest zucchini flowers) and artichokes (to cook the stems, too) in my sub-urban California front garden (to the dismay of my neighbors) to get anything close to what you can get here. Now, I don´t bother - I can pick them up at the store and farmer´s market here!

Though, I do miss the variety I used to get in the U.S. Asian Eggplants, Long-life beans, butternut squash, habaneros... forgetaboutit.

Time to smuggle some pepper seeds and freak out my well-appointed Italian neighbors.

Ciao,

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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I would have thought that pasta with red sauce would be even more riffed than carbonara.

Sugo di pomodoro or salsa di pomodoro is fairly simple until you get to America. Did that just sound snooty? There's a reason for that. :hmmm:

The flavor of my same old recipes that I cooked in the U.S. improved 100-fold when I moved here (in Italy) and started using Italian ingredients. Finally, my husband began to concede that now "it tastes just like mamma used to make" - hearing those words spoken by an Italian man is a miracle.

I used to have to grow my own zucchini (to harvest zucchini flowers) and artichokes (to cook the stems, too) in my sub-urban California front garden (to the dismay of my neighbors) to get anything close to what you can get here. Now, I don´t bother - I can pick them up at the store and farmer´s market here!

Though, I do miss the variety I used to get in the U.S. Asian Eggplants, Long-life beans, butternut squash, habaneros... forgetaboutit.

Time to smuggle some pepper seeds and freak out my well-appointed Italian neighbors.

Ciao,

L

It's such a difference, isn't it?

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SobaAddict70, Yes, and you are right. For some reason, Americans tend to over-complicate things. There are hundreds of recipes for "pizza sauce" but Italians don't make sauce to put on pizza. We put plain 'ol tomato puree on it. Sometimes we like to shake things up a bit and use chopped tomatoes. But there is not need to make a sauce!!

Oh... we registered the "official" pizza recipe, too... just in case. ; )

L


Edited by pazzaglia (log)

hip pressure cooking - making pressure cooking hip, one recipe at a time!

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Carbonara sauce surely has to be made fresh? And how many restaurants are prepared to do that?

But it does remind me of the fact that I have never ever had a decent lasagne (spelled lasagna only if it comes with one singular sheet of pasta) in the USA. Nobody seems to have considered a Béchamel sauce.

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On 5/5/2011 at 4:35 PM, pazzaglia said:

Chris, the Italians made defining Ragu alla Bolognese easy. They registered the recipe in the annals of government as part of preserving our culinary "heritage." There may be many Ragu´s, but only one "official" Bolognese!

http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=it&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fit.wikibooks.org%2Fwiki%2FLibro_di_cucina%2FRicette%2FRag%25C3%25B9_bolognese&act=url&act=url

I was able to replicate it in the pressure cooker, with only the addition of one cup of water. I could only cut the cooking time down in half because the sauteeing and evaporation of each ingredient to create layer upon decadent layer of flavor are steps that cannot be skipped.

There is no need to debate about what´s in the original. ;)

Ciao,

L

 

  • Thanks, pazzaglia . May I ask a couple questions about the official Bolognese recipe translation quoted in part below?

 

Quote

 

A traditional ragù for four people can be prepared with:

  • 300 g of beef pulp (the folder that is the part that divides the lungs from ribs)
  • 100 g of sweet pork bacon
  • half a glass of dry white wine [1]
  • a glass of meat broth
  • 5 tablespoons of tomato sauce (triple or double concentrated)
  • 1 onion, 1 yellow carrot and 1 celery, (50 g one, whole)
  • a spoon of cream from the outskirts

 

  •  

What is beef pulp?

What is cream from the outskirts?

 

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Hi @OldHobo - I don't think @pazzaglia has been around eG in a while.  I noticed her link to the pressure cooker Ragu alla Bolognese recipe is broken.  You can find it here on her website, Hippressurecooking.com : TRADITIONAL BOLOGNESE SAUCE IN HALF THE TIME

 

With respect to your questions about the translation, "beef pulp" is ground beef and "cream from the outskirts" is a not very helpful translation of panna da affioramento.  "Cream obtained by separation" would be clearer so heavy cream would do.

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2 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

Thought everyone might enjoy THIS VIDEO of real Italian chefs watching the top carbonara videos on youtube.

 

Ditto the thanks!  I also enjoyed this video that queued up following your link with the same 3 Roman chefs preparing their versions of carbonara:

 

Wish I could try them all!

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I’ll be making the Birth of Carbonara 🤪

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