This is my goddaughter's favourite pasta. Avid readers will remember her as the one who likes mashed potato. So a carbs kind of girl. In other words, my kind of girl. There is nothing more depressing than eating with a woman who chews on a lettuce leaf and then spits it out. I like a girl who can eat properly. One who likes her food and isn't afraid to show it.
Now I have been making carbonara for my goddaughter for years and years, but I have to say, this is the best recipe I have ever used. The ingredients all mix together so perfectly in this version, I just love it.
Carbonara is a dish that has been around as long as I have been. Actually even longer. The name comes from the Italian word carbonaro, or charcoal burner, and featured in Elizabeth David's iconic cookbook Italian Food published in 1954.
I love Elizabeth David, one of life's truly elegant women, and with a brain too. She not only inspired people to cook, but also to think about food in a totally different way. To see it not as a chore but as exciting and creative, almost sensual. I'm sure Nigella Lawson gets a lot of her inspiration from Elizabeth David. They are both extremely attractive women, and of course Elizabeth appealed very much to Britain's middle classes then, just as Nigella does today, being posh chicks. In Elizabeth's day, though, there was no such thing as the celebrity chef, although I suppose she came close, but she was more famous for her writing about food than appearing on telly, which seems to be the norm now. My goddaughter's father is always saying we should stop being on telly and get back in the kitchen. I think he has a point.
Anyway, I digress. This recipe is easy. You don't really need me to tell you anything, just follow it. There are, however, two top tips I will share with you, generous soul that I am. One, do not overcook the pasta. It really does need to be al dente for this to work. Your family might grumble and say it's undercooked, but just tell them they're wrong. Two, make sure the whole family is sitting at the table before you start mixing it all together or they will be eating congealed eggs. And if you mix that with overcooked pasta, then, well, don't blame me.
I hope you like this recipe. I promise you it is a winner. I think it's better than the one in Italian Food, which is as high an accolade as you can get. Buon appetito!
MAKE IT YOURSELF
8 egg yolks
200g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked
1/2 nutmeg, grated
100g rock salt
16 slices turkey bacon or beef bacon
1. Mix the egg yolks with the cream, Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg and keep aside.
2. Bring the water with the rock salt added to the boil in a large pot.
3. Cut the bacon in half strips and cook in a large non-stick pan until golden brown.
4. Cook the pasta for 10 minutes in the boiling water and rock salt, stirring continuously. Once done, strain and keep separate.
5. Warm up the pan with the cooked bacon and add the pasta, keeping the heat on medium.
6. Add the egg mixture and stir. Switch off the stovetop to avoid the eggs cooking too much. The pasta should look soft and creamy. Check the seasoning and serve hot.