I love Pasta Carbonara. It is the dish I inevitably gravitate towards every time I am in Rome. In theory it’s simple: peas and pancetta and pasta with a light egg sauce and cheese.
Not so. True carbonara requires a delicate balance of heat and time and whisking and tossing to avoid curdling the eggs. The first time I tried to make it, I was not helped along by my Italian pasta cookbook I bought in Italy. It called for dessert spoons of oil and grams of egg yolk – something outside of my American upbringing. It was a failure. I basically had gritty scrambled eggs and pasta.
I’ve since learned how to make a tolerable carbonara but I also have learned that I don’t have to do all the work. Why spend time tossing and mixing when your dinner-mates can do it for you? Once again, proving that I am at heart a secretly lazy cook who still wants to show off just a touch.
Heat marries flavors like a boss, and this version of carbonara uses heat from the pasta and a splash of pasta water to make the rich eggy sauce come together – right at the table. Basically taking an egg yolk cradled in a pasta nest to the next level. When I serve this pasta, I deliver it to the table and have each person do their own tossing and mixing.
I already adulterated traditional carbonara, so I decided to push it a little further and use some very non-traditional cured chorizo in place of the pancetta and brussels sprouts in place of the peas. There is no substitute for the large amount of pepper you should grind over the top.
Chorizo is a spicy Spanish sausage with lots of garlic and paprika. Be sure to get the cured, dry sausage. Some butcher shops sell fresh chorizo-which is delicious, but it is too fatty and won’t work well. One cured sausage will easily make it into 3 dishes, which means money well spent in my book.
Finally – a little note on pasta. I use capellini – the thinest stuff. It cooks up in 2-4 minutes which means I can have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes if I push it a bit. If you want, spaghetti or linguine would work just as well.
Hope you enjoy!
Lydia, food adulterer
This post is a part of The Vintage Mixer‘s Eat Seasonal series. So many reasons to focus on eating quality in-season produce… to save money, to get the freshest produce, for sustainability but most of all everything just tastes better!
Check out these great posts with great recipes for seasonal eating! Enjoy!
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