Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Spaghetti Carbonara

Unfortunately, due to the need to get dinner cooked nice and quickly (Corey has to get up at 4:45 for work this week), I have no pretty pictures for this post :( I will make it up to you this weekend, though. I promise!)

I love Italian food. What I don't love is how some of the Italian's I've met (mostly the family I used to work for) are irrationally protective over "their" recipes. They are reluctant to add something different to food. They are horrified at the idea of their Nona's recipe being changed at all. I wasn't brought up like that (probably because I'm South African and not Italian...). My father never makes the same recipe twice. The basic ingredients are the same, but he'll add a little bit of this, or take out something that didn't quite work out before. Sometimes it doesn't work. But more often than not, it works really well. And I'm the same. I take a basic recipe and I tweak it, and change it. Unlike my Dad, though, when I discover something I like, I write it down, so that I know what I did last time. Although I still tweak and adapt according to what/s in the cupboard. But by tweaking I learn how certain things interact with others. I don't follow the culinary "rules", I follow my taste buds.

Why the discussion about Italian food? I thought I'd write that introduction before telling you about the spaghetti carbonara I made tonight. That's because this isn't the traditional carbonara, it's my own personal twist (at least, as of tonight...It'll probably change slightly next time!). 

Carbonara is quick and easy to make, although there is one point to which you have to follow the technique carefully. Anyone who's cooked it before knows what I'm talking about: the bit where you add the sauce. Before I get there, though, I'll explain how I made tonight's meal. 

Ingredients:
Pancetta (I often use chicken instead. I'm a girl on a budget! But tonight I thought I'd splurge a little)
Onions
Garlic
Button mushrooms
Cherry tomatoes (because I thought...why not?)
Spaghetti
Basil
Salt 
Pepper

For the sauce
1 egg
Parmesan cheese (to taste. I used about 3 teaspoons)
About 50 mls milk (it makes an ok cream substitute)

1) Chop up the onions, garlic, mushrooms and, if not already chopped, the pancetta. 

2) Put the spaghetti on to boil. Trust me, the rest of the food will be done in the 12 minutes it takes to cook.

3) Put a little oil in a pan, and fry up the onions, garlic, pancetta, mushrooms and put the cherry tomatoes in. I squashed the tomatoes as they started to burst from the heat. I fried everything at a medium temperature, turning up the heat near to the end of the cooking. Add a seasoning to taste.

4) Mix the egg, milk and Parmesan in a jug, beating it well.

5) Here's the important part. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it. Turn the head off of the pan with the other ingredients in. I always add the spaghetti and give everything a good stir to mix it up. This allows everything to cool ever so slightly which is important. I then add the egg mixture and stir it all up again. You don't want the egg to scramble, so it's a good idea to give it a fairly brisk stir. 

6) Serve immediately. I also made some baby carrots to go with on the side. Because getting Corey to eat as many vegetables as I can is my aim in life.

Other additions I've made to carbonara: I've used cream instead of milk (the more traditional way of doing things!). I don't usually use cream because usage of cream in my flat is rare, and I hate seeing things go to waste/feeling like I HAVE to make something to use things up. I've added a bit of white wine when I had some left over and thought "why not?". That worked out alright. Not so certain I'll do it again, though. It's probably better if I just drink it all instead :-P

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