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Home Cooking

Carbonara: A couple of personal approaches

antihawk | Oct 20, 201708:25 AM     3

Hi, all.

Carbonara is certainly in my top three pasta dishes. I have two approaches that I'd like to share, and see if anyone else does something similar, and hopefully pick up helpful tips and tricks from others.

When I make carbonara the traditional way, a problem, for me, is that the sauce comes out watery (even when I use mostly egg yolks), with a lot of it collecting at the bottom of the pan when I lift the pasta out. I want a sauce that perfectly clings to the pasta.

The obvious solution to this, normally, would be to keep the pan on the heat and evaporate off some of the water. This comes with the risk of scrambling the eggs. I've actually had luck with reducing the sauce without scrambling the eggs, as long as I keep the pan on a low heat; it just takes a long time.

Normally the eggs are whisked together in a bowl, with the parmesan, black pepper, and cream (if using, although I don't).

Eggs contain lecithin, which is an emulsifier. I've taken to putting the eggs, parmesan and black pepper in a stick blender cup. I use the stick blender to create a stable emulsion: while blending, I add hot pasta water and a little melted butter (you need to add while blending to stop the eggs from cooking). I used xantham gum to further thicken to my preference, but cornstarch could work just as well; both act as stabilisers.

I also want bacon flavour in every bite. So I fry up the amount of bacon I'm going to use for the dish. But when still relatively soft, I take out half the bacon and add it to the stick blender cup, and blend it with the emulsion. The result is like bacon-flavoured cream. I use the rest of the bacon bits normally with the dish.

The benefit of this emulsion is that it stays stable when I cook it at a medium temperature. So when I pour it over the pasta, if I want to reduce it slightly, I can put the pan back on medium heat until I reach my desired consistency -- I had no trouble with the emulsion breaking.

TL;DR: (1) I use a stick blender to create an emulsion of the eggs, pasta water, parmesan and melted butter, with black pepper, thickened further with xantham gum or cornstarch. (2) I set aside half the cooked bacon and blend it smoothly in with the emulsion to create bacon-flavoured cream.

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