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How To Make A Foolproof Carbonara

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A foolproof pasta sauce is something everyone should have up their sleeve, so they can alway rustle up something delicious for an unexpected dinner guest or stress-free weekday supper. And other than pork lardons or chopped pancetta, a carbonara sauce only requires store cupboard ingredients (parmesan, eggs, black pepper, garlic, and of course pasta), which makes it a winner on the shopping front as well as a flavour favourite - and you could always substitute pancetta with bacon if you happen to have that in stock instead.

Personally, I'm not a fan of cream-based carbonaras, which seem faux Italian to me, and prefer the sauce's creaminess to come from the combination of egg yolks, parmesan, pancetta cooking oil and a little pasta water. But some cooks add a dollop of double cream to the mix, with perfectly edible results, so feel free to improvise if you fancy.

I haven't prescribed exact quantities in the recipe below as I think the sauce is simple enough to allow room for personal preference - add more egg yolks or even a whole egg if you like a richer sauce, replace the lardons with asparagus if you want a vegetarian carbonara, switch between spaghetti or penne as you wish. It's the method that holds the key to a perfect carbonara: stick to that, and you can be as creative as you like with the ingredients.

What you'll need:

  • Pasta - roughly 90g per person
  • Egg yolks - 1 per person
  • Pancetta or lardons
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Garlic, crushed (or even, shh, garlic powder)
  • Black pepper

What to do:

  1. Put a saucepan of salted water on to boil, then measure the pasta in and cook for as long as the packet dictates.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in a little oil, over a low heat, so that it cooks slowly through and crisps up without burning. If you're using fresh garlic, you can fry this alongside the pancetta.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and grate a generous quantity of parmesan and black pepper into the eggs.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked through, scoop out a mugful of the cooking water then drain the pasta. Tip the pasta back into its saucepan and add the pancetta with all its juices and cooking oil. Before the pasta cools down too much, mix in the egg yolk and parmesan, adding as much of the pasta's cooking water as you need to stop the pasta strands or shapes sticking together.
  5. Season with extra black pepper (you shouldn't need salt if you've salted the cooking water) and garlic powder.
  6. Serve immediately and devour.

Last updated 13:32 on 4 September 2018

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