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Basilgirl

Spaghetti Carbonara

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which pancetta to use? I like pancetta that is not too fat and is cured with plenty of pepper, something like rigatino (streaky pancetta) from Tuscany. That's also the reason why I prefer this to guanciale which has much more fat than muscle.

I thought guanciale was leaner, since it is from the jowls and not the belly.


-- Jason

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Two quick things, neither of which will endear me to those seeking carbonaric authenticity.

(1) The late Empire, a nice restaurant run by a couple who had worked at Al Forno here in Providence, had a great carbonara that was topped by a very lightly fried egg. This was a good thing.

(2) The big carbonara holiday fast approaches -- at least in the Calvin Trillin household, where carbonara is the premier feast dish. I'm at work, so I can't cite this directly, but you can find his recipe in Molly O'Neill's New York Cookbook.


Chris Amirault

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which pancetta to use? I like pancetta that is not too fat and is cured with plenty of pepper, something like rigatino (streaky pancetta) from Tuscany. That's also the reason why I prefer this to guanciale which has much more fat than muscle.

I thought guanciale was leaner, since it is from the jowls and not the belly.

It depends on how the animal was raised, its age, regional traditions, etc.

You can find some pretty lean guanciale, but I haven't had much luck in finding that lately. The one I order from Italy has often more fat than pancetta and if you cut through it you have two large stripes of fat separated by a rather thick meaty layer.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Uhhhhhhhhhh . . . how could you leave out the most important question of all: WHICH BACON???????  :biggrin:  :laugh:

I refuse to accept anything other then pancetta. Sorry. :raz:

OK then, let's make this game a little more interesting, WHICH pancetta :cool::biggrin: ?

Not pancetta. Guancale. (cured pork cheek) which I believe is more traditional. If hard up for guancale, then pancetta.

edit:

Ah, I see this was covered further down the thread.

And I use whole eggs with a few extra yolks thrown in.


Edited by Jinmyo (log)

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Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I love Carbonara. I tend to make it with Shirataki noodles instead of spaghetti, which I find work very well in this dish.

As for the bacon/pancetta, I tend to use thick sliced bacon from a local Amish butcher, which is generally where I usually get my bacon, it is damn good bacon.

I use whole eggs, never thought about adding extra yolks, I will have to try sometime.

For cheese it is usually parmesan as that is what I have around, but I have thrown in mozerella, cheddar, and mancego as well in the past when I have been running low on pamesan. Mancego actually works incredibly well in this dish.

Onions or shallots? I tend to use onions, as I generally have them around. And tons of garlic, fresh cracked cloves go right in. Sometimes a dash of dried red pepper flakes as well for extra seasoning along with the loads of black pepper.

Also, I use heavy cream and butter liberally in this dish.

It might not be traditional, but it tastes very good, IMO, far better with the little bits of doctoring than the original does, but hey, that is what recipes are for, to inspire and play with.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I have an idea I've been playing with for a little while now - very thin, small ravioli filled with a dab of cream and a smallish salted, peppered and unbroken egg yolk. The short cooking time would leave the yolk runny - plated with rendered pancetta, a drizzle of melted butter and shards of cheese. Maybe a couple crisp-fried sage leaves.

One would get a plate of innocuous-looking ravioli with butter sauce, but would be suprised by the run of egg yolk. A few judicious swabs of the plate, and you'd have a delicious bite on your fork.

Just an idea. Think I'll try it tonight.

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Not pancetta. Guancale. (cured pork cheek) which I believe is more traditional. If hard up for guancale, then pancetta.

For carbonara, I prefer pancetta to guanciale; for amatriciana, that other favourite Roman stand-by, it's the reverse. Both are of course variations on a cured theme, mostly fat, with some lean to add flavour, texture and bite. Guanciale, from the pig cheek, can be stronger and earthier in flavour, and it seems to go well with the garlic, tomatoes and chilies which I use in my amatriciana. The main thing I'm looking for with carbonara is some meaty bite in the pancetta (cured belly pork), the firm fried cubes of meat and fat, richly peppered, not too crisp and crunchy, the hard bite of the meat a contrast to the smooth and deliciously creamy egg sauce. Flabby old English back bacon, or thin, crisply fried American bacon just doesn't pass muster, in my book at least.

In fact, I've just today ordered some Tuscan pancetta tesa (what would, I think, be called rigatino in and around Florence) from UK on-line Italian specialists Savoria. Also some pecorino romano which I also prefer to parmigiano reggiano for either carbonara or amatriciana - that particular grainy flavour of sheep milk cheese just seems to be right. Oh and heaps and heaps of coarsely ground or freshly cracked black pepper - impossible (almost) to have too much.

Eunny, your egg ravioli sounds delightful. What about adding a few cubes of crisp fried pancetta inside each raviolo along with the uncooked yolk and cream? Again, it's the crunch of the meaty, fried cubes contrasting with the smooth runny yolk that for me would be most intriguing.

MP

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I have an idea I've been playing with for a little while now - very thin, small  ravioli filled with a dab of cream and a smallish salted, peppered and unbroken egg yolk.  The short cooking time would leave the yolk runny - plated with rendered pancetta, a drizzle of melted butter and shards of cheese.  Maybe a couple crisp-fried sage leaves.

One would get a plate of innocuous-looking ravioli with butter sauce, but would be suprised by the run of egg yolk.  A few judicious swabs of the plate, and you'd have a delicious bite on your fork.

Just an idea.  Think I'll try it tonight.

Sort of a Carbonara meets Scotch Eggs kind of thing, cool idea.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I have an idea I've been playing with for a little while now - very thin, small  ravioli filled with a dab of cream and a smallish salted, peppered and unbroken egg yolk.  The short cooking time would leave the yolk runny - plated with rendered pancetta, a drizzle of melted butter and shards of cheese.  Maybe a couple crisp-fried sage leaves.

One would get a plate of innocuous-looking ravioli with butter sauce, but would be suprised by the run of egg yolk.  A few judicious swabs of the plate, and you'd have a delicious bite on your fork.

Just an idea.  Think I'll try it tonight.

Mmmm, a ravioli version of Brik. :laugh: If you want to keep them small, use quail eggs. Otherwise, get peewees, the smallest commercial grade (I believe) of hens' eggs. With even medium eggs, they'll end up pretty large. Cool idea, in any case. :cool:

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I have an idea I've been playing with for a little while now - very thin, small  ravioli filled with a dab of cream and a smallish salted, peppered and unbroken egg yolk.  The short cooking time would leave the yolk runny - plated with rendered pancetta, a drizzle of melted butter and shards of cheese.  Maybe a couple crisp-fried sage leaves.

One would get a plate of innocuous-looking ravioli with butter sauce, but would be suprised by the run of egg yolk.  A few judicious swabs of the plate, and you'd have a delicious bite on your fork.

Just an idea.  Think I'll try it tonight.

Please do -- and post the pix! It sounds really fantastic to me -- and I really encourage the sage leaves. You can cook them in the butter to infuse it.... You also didn't say coarse black pepper, but I'm sure you're thinking that way, yes?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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For carbonara, I use guanciale if I have it, otherwise pancetta. A mix of parmigiano (or grana padana) and pecorino. No onions. No cream. Above all, NO PEAS!! :angry: (Who the hell came up with that one?)

Squeat

Edit for completeness: Yes, loads of fresh cracked black pepper. I usually use a combo of whole eggs and yolks. If it's just me, it's one egg and one yolk.


Edited by Squeat Mungry (log)

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In fact, I've just today ordered some Tuscan pancetta tesa (what would, I think, be called  rigatino in and around Florence) from UK on-line Italian specialists Savoria. Also some pecorino romano which I also prefer to parmigiano reggiano for either carbonara or amatriciana - that particular grainy flavour of sheep milk cheese just seems to be right. Oh and heaps and heaps of coarsely ground or freshly cracked black pepper - impossible (almost) to have too much.

Marc,

just a suggestion regarding cheese, tried a few times following a suggestion from Antonio Tombolini (on his old esperya forum I guess), which works nicely. Try using the central Italian aged Pecorini in both carbonara and amatriciana. They're not as salty as Pecorino Romano, but more pungent than Parmigiano. The taste is somewhat different to what one's used to but the various ingredients are better balanced.

I think you're right on rigatino being the name for pancetta tesa in Florence and Chianti, though it is leaner than other pancetta from other Italian regions, especially the southern ones.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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just a suggestion regarding cheese...

Grazie Alberto, I'll definitely take your suggestion and look out for pecorino stagionato from Tuscany, Umbria and Marche. I know what you mean about the dominant salty assertiveness of pecorino romano. I've also had some great pecorino from Abruzzo.

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I started with Marcella Hazen's recipe and then riffed a little, but not too much:

pancetta (would love to try guanciale, but not sure where to get it in Seattle--will have to find out)

sprinkle of dried red chiles (not traditional, I know, but I like it)

garlic (she says to just brown cloves and remove, but I like garlic so I chop it and leave it in)

Eggs (I use 3 for a box of pasta)

parmigiano reggiano

pecorino romano

bit of chopped parsley

lots of cracked pepper

The egg yolk in ravioli sounds wonderful.

Jan


Jan

Seattle, WA

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I have an idea I've been playing with for a little while now - very thin, small  ravioli filled with a dab of cream and a smallish salted, peppered and unbroken egg yolk.  The short cooking time would leave the yolk runny - plated with rendered pancetta, a drizzle of melted butter and shards of cheese.  Maybe a couple crisp-fried sage leaves.

One would get a plate of innocuous-looking ravioli with butter sauce, but would be suprised by the run of egg yolk.  A few judicious swabs of the plate, and you'd have a delicious bite on your fork.

Just an idea.  Think I'll try it tonight.

eunny, that sounds wonderful! I would eat egg yolks (oh so forbidden a pleasure :wink: ) for that. :biggrin:


Judith Love

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A few points:

No onion.

Very little garlic flavour.

A little bit of chilli and quite a lot of black pepper gives a nice balanced spiciness.

A spoonful (no more) of cream improves the sauce and shouldn't really be detectable. But really go easy -- say 1 teaspoon per egg.

And a non-standard modification is to saute a couple of bay leaves in the oil at the beginning.

Personally I find pancetta often too salty; I actually prefer it with thickly cut bacon. You want quite thick pieces. And be sure not to cook them too much; this is a common error in Italy too. You want them to still be a biot juicy with a bit of unrendered fat in, but still a bit crispy round the edges. But this is just my personal preference.

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I love Carbonara.  I tend to make it with Shirataki noodles instead of spaghetti, which I find work very well in this dish.

As for the bacon/pancetta, I tend to use thick sliced bacon from a local Amish butcher, which is generally where I usually get my bacon, it is damn good bacon.

I use whole eggs, never thought about adding extra yolks, I will have to try sometime.

For cheese it is usually parmesan as that is what I have around, but I have thrown in mozerella, cheddar, and mancego as well in the past when I have been running low on pamesan.  Mancego actually works incredibly well in this dish.

Onions or shallots?  I tend to use onions, as I generally have them around.  And tons of garlic, fresh cracked cloves go right in.  Sometimes a dash of dried red pepper flakes as well for extra seasoning along with the loads of black pepper.

Also, I use heavy cream and butter liberally in this dish. 

It might not be traditional, but it tastes very good, IMO, far better with the little bits of doctoring than the original does, but hey, that is what recipes are for, to inspire and play with.

Nullo Modo, I agree that recipes are there to inspire and to play with, at least at times. And I'm sure the dish tastes better to you than the original, that's the whole point of changing recipes, at least for the home cook in my view.

What I disagree on is if what you have there is still carbonara. Italian cuisine might not be codified as the French, but there is on many dishes a general consensus of what the defining elements of a dish are. For carbonara I would take the following: noodles, eggs, cheese, pepper and cured meat. If one keeps to that, you can play as much as you want but you still basically have a carbonara.

You could use duck eggs, oriental noodles, ground sichuan peppercorns and cured Chinese meats to make an oriental carbonara. Or a pecorino and pepper flavored zabaione in which to dip your pasta, with lardons on the side. You could, like Italian chef Moreno Cedroni does, turn the thing on its head and use cured smoked fish instead of pancetta and cubed, instead of grated, cheese. Eunny's idea, with pepper replacing the sage, would make a perfect carbonara ravioli dish.

I would even say a tad of cream, a slight onion or garlic note are fine, though they do nothing for me. On the other hand if your pasta sauce starts relying on cream and butter, if onion or garlic dominate the flavor, than you probably have a great rich pasta dish but it's not a carbonara anymore. The essence of the dish is simply lost.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Sorry I'm late to the game, but here are my carbonara 'rules'

Good local (British in my case) bacon is better than bad pancetta - I often use a nice dry cure streaky bacon.

Butter should be the frying medium of choice.

I love Garlic. But not in my carbonara please. Same with Chilli.

No onions, no shallots.

I like Pecorino - but what I can get tends to be a bit salty. So a Parmesan/pecorino mix is the usual.

I tend to use a one egg + one yolk mix.

I usually deglaze the pan slightly with some dry vermouth.

I like to add a fairly generous grating of nutmeg.

A lot of black pepper. I usually crush in a pestle and mortar for that coarse yet even consistency.

Strangely I'm a bit less fussy on the pasta shape I use - I like it with long pasta like linguini, spaghetti and ziti, but also short pasta like penne.

The one bastardisation I will allow is to occasionally add some young sweet peas to the mix. But then I don't think of it as carbonara.


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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I had an Italian (Northern) chef friend in LA who knew 4 words of English, but cured and smoked his own guanciale (and sell me slabs of it on the side), and it would bring me to tears it was so good. Made the Batali Babbo stuff taste like cardboard by comparison.

I've made various attempts at curing my own, but I've never equaled his original.

Now I've found a pancetta tesa (partially cured) in London, though imported from Italy, which has a massive, stunning flavour. The affumicata (smoked) I find a little domineering.


"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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Albiston -

I can certainly see your point. I think at this point it is just a matter of semantics however. I personally see the dish as being close enough to Carbonara to still be called Carbonara, but then on the same note as I look at it is wandering into Alfredo territory as well, so perhaps it is Carbofredo ;).

Personally I don't see the point in having to define dishes as only being one certain thing, or having to fit into a certain set of criteria to bare a name. It reminds me a bit of the discussion in the Lobster Creme Brulee thread. If you want to call a lobster custard with a cripsy piece of parmesan on top a Creme Broulee, then go for it, I mean, it sorta looke like Creme Brulee still. It would be fairly misleading to call such a dish 'Lobster Spaghetti' because there is simply no resemblance, but the Creme Brulee idea would give a diner a good idea. I think my Carbonara is a similar case. It is not typical Carbonara, but if I called the dish 'Carbonara' it would give some a general idea of what to expect, and the flavor profile is similar, though not identical.


He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Spaghetti alla carbonara is one of the simple glories of Italian cuisine (having originated in Rome). Speed is of the essence in this preparation, because it should be transferred allegretto to the table. I am quite persistent that carbonara should be made & presented without embellishments – or appogiaturas:

Per 1 lb. spaghetti (spaghettini, fettucine, etc. for acceptable deviations), you’ll need 1½ oz. fat, 4 oz. unsmoked pancetta, 1½ fl. oz. heavy cream, 3 eggs, and about 4 oz. parmigiano Reggiano (preferable in this dish, I think, to Pecorino Foggiano/Romano/Siciliano). Please drain the pasta briefly because you’ll enjoy it better in a moister condition. As for the egg sauce, it must not be scrambled! I’m not dissuasive to the notion of adding wine to the dish; but I sure like a glass of Bardolino to drink with it.

“The Carbonari of old Rome were men who worked in carbon mines, and, being covered with carbon, were referred to by thier appearance. This dish similarly derives it's name from its appearance which traditionally has been prepared with lots of fresh black pepper.” [source: Dani's Cucina]


Edited by Redsugar (log)

"Dinner is theater. Ah, but dessert is the fireworks!" ~ Paul Bocuse

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Albiston -

  I can certainly see your point.  I think at this point it is just a matter of semantics however.  I personally see the dish as being close enough to Carbonara to still be called Carbonara, but then on the same note as I look at it is wandering into Alfredo territory as well, so perhaps it is Carbofredo ;). 

Personally I don't see the point in having to define dishes as only being one certain thing, or having to fit into a certain set of criteria to bare a name.  It reminds me a bit of the discussion in the Lobster Creme Brulee thread.  If you want to call a lobster custard with a cripsy piece of parmesan on top a Creme Broulee, then go for it, I mean, it sorta looke like Creme Brulee still.  It would be fairly misleading to call such a dish 'Lobster Spaghetti' because  there is simply no resemblance, but the Creme Brulee idea would give a diner a good idea.  I think my Carbonara is a similar case.  It is not typical Carbonara, but if I called the dish 'Carbonara' it would give some a general idea of what to expect, and the flavor profile is similar, though not identical.

:smile: I know, we Italians can be quite tight assed when it comes to our traditions and playing around with them.

I think our main opinion difference is in that "flavor profile" you mention in your last sentence. For me a dish made with cream does not resemble carbonara anymore. As you said yourself, Carbofredo :biggrin: . While I can understand the fact that this flavor might still be a carbonara for many, I feel it is a misconception coming from the lack of knowledge of what the original dish should be. And this is what makes semantics and having a common definition so important.

I believe it is a sign of respect for a culinary tradition to know what a certain dish is in its original acceptation. I'm not like that only towards my own tradition: I get equally pissed off when some of my Italian friends tell me they're going to have a BBQ... on an open fire. It has nothing to do with rigid definitions or categories; as I've said before, please do go on playing with recipes. But don't go around butchering those traditions.

Furthermore, the cream addition is IMO something that got into the recipe to make life easier for lazy cooks: no time or too sloppy to get your carbonara properly creamy? What the fuck, just pour some cream in there and hey pronto! problem solved. That makes me particularly angry.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Alberto - I agree with these points, but in reference to a common definition, does there not come a point where rigid definitions are a negative? (Although clearly not in the present case, cream users should be shot).

For example American expectations of a "pizza" are likely to be significantly different to that in Italy (or Naples v Siena).

I guess the difficulty is balancing 'tradition' with 'innovation'. Why I value organisations like Slowfood et al., I wonder if in some ways a rigid definition of traditional is may actually be negative in some ways?

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There is a pub near me which does surprisingly good pasta and pizzas.

He actually has two carbonaras on the menu - an authentic one, and a creamier, 'saucier' one for Brits used to ready meals and bottled pasta sauces.


I love animals.

They are delicious.

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