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Old 04-17-2013, 03:16 PM   #11
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Thanks Alix.
It was interesting to compare to ragno's recent carbonara recipe.
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:02 PM   #12
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Are they similar? I'll have to do a search on that one.
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:29 PM   #13
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Alix, thanks for reviving the thread. I love this dish.

However, I have two thoughts.

1. The OP states the traditional meat is guanciale or pancetta, which are unsmoked then calls for smoked streaky bacon (American bacon) in the recipe. What's up with that? She is presenting this as an authentic recipe.

2. The recipe calls for 15 grams of said bacon (half a rasher). That seems woefully inadequate to flavor a full pound of pasta (500 grams). I'd think several rashers would be better, perhaps a quarter pound.

Alix, I'm not asking you. Consider these as hypothetical questions.
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Old 04-17-2013, 04:33 PM   #14
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I just skimmed ragno's recipe. He calls for guanciale as well and rejects bacon as an option. His recipe calls for 150 grams of meat, about a quarter pound. Maybe diane's recipe was a typo (15 gr).

There are other, minor differences but the recipes are essentially the same.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:07 PM   #15
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Just to complicate the matter further...

I checked Marcella Hazan's (I've always considered her an authority on Italian cooking) recipe for carbonara. She includes white wine, onion and parsley and parm reg plus romano for cheese.

I also looked at Mario Batali's recipe for this dish. He's another chef that presents his versions as traditional Italian recipes. In a quick scan, I found several different recipes for the same dish. His calls for guanciale but suggests pancetta or bacon as alternatives. Several versions of his recipe call for parm reg and one for pecorino romano.

I guess the bottom line is make the recipe you like best.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:31 PM   #16
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I recall PMing with Dianne long long ago and it WAS a typo. I've always used a larger amount of bacon.

As well, I use bacon but eliminate any olive oil. I suspect the point was really to have some hot grease of some kind in there to parcook the eggs.

I do like that folks are not totally married to any one particular meat. Use what works IMO.

I'd not seen ragno's recipe before reviving this. His IS quite similar.

Big thing for me with this dish is the cracked pepper. LOTS of it. And nothing can substitute for that IMO. Its got to be fresh, cracked pepper. I put a bunch in when I cook the dish then add more when I get it to my plate.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:37 PM   #17
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I agree. The best plate of carbonara I've had was at an Italian restaurant in a couple's home in Aruba. Wife did most of the cooking and hubby helped in the kitchen and shmoozed the customers. A great dining experience. I think she used bacon. I've tried to make it at home but haven't attained the great flavor I want yet.
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Old 04-17-2013, 05:43 PM   #18
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I think the eggs play a bigger role than I'd realized too. I messed up once and used whole eggs instead of mostly yolks. Didn't taste bad, just didn't have the texture I wanted.
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Old 04-17-2013, 07:13 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dianne View Post
I know posting this recipe may seem banal, but there are so many myths about the preparation of this very simple, classic Roman dish. I first learned it years ago when I was living in Rome.

Called 'carbonara' because one of the essential ingredients is the heavy speckling with freshly grated coarse black pepper, that somewhat resembles tiny pieces of charcoal, this spaghetti dish is now acclaimed worldwide, and unfortunately often wrongly made.

For four people:

500 gr. spaghetti, of the thicker variety - thin won't do, and it has to be spaghetti, not tagliatelle or any other type of pasta, although you can get away with rigatoni if you find spaghetti difficult to handle at the table.

15 gr smoked streaky bacon - the fat content must be approximately equal to the meat content, evenly cut into tiny cubes - in Italy they use 'guanciale' or pancetta. Guanciale is like pancetta, but from a different cut of pork. Any rind should be removed.

Extra virgin olive oil - about 10 - 15 cl, or enough to shallow-fry the bacon.

2 whole eggs and 2 yolks, very fresh.

Roman pecorino cheese. This is like Parmesan, but made from ewe's milk. It has a stronger flavour than Parmesan and higher acidity, and balances very well with the eggs and the bacon. Failing that, Parmesan will do, but no other cheese.

Lots and lots of fresh coarsely ground black pepper.

Preparation:

Notes:
The egg mixture must not be heated up after being mixed into the spaghetti - this is fundamental to the finish of the dish.
The heat of the fried bacon, olive oil and cooked spaghetti is sufficient to 'cook' the eggs to the right degree, which should be creamy, not scrambled.

Cream must never be added - it's not 'carbonara'! if it is!!

Do not drain the spaghetti totally dry - if you do, reserve a couple of spoonsful of the cooking water to add back to the spaghetti afterwards. This is what gives the nice creamy texture to the sauce - not cream!!

The bacon should be slowly crisped, to dissolve as much of the fat into the oil as possible.

The amount of black pepper: should look as though you've had an accident with the pepper mill.

Cooking:

Cook the spaghetti 'al dente' - any softer spoils the texture of the dish.

Fry the bacon gently in the olive oil until the fat has melted and the bacon cubes crisped.

Beat the eggs and yolks together, and add enough cheese to make it fairly stiff.

When the spaghetti is cooked and mostly drained, add the bacon and oil, then add the egg mix, off the heat, and the black pepper, mix well with the spaghetti so that the pasta is thoroughly coated with the sauce and is well 'speckled' with the black pepper, and serve immediately.

ciao a tutti

dianne
That's my recipe exactly except for 2 added ingredients: a cup of wine to deglaze the pan and garlic. You're right, no other cheese but pecorino or Parmesan works. Also in leau of wine I use Woodchuck hard apple cider. It adds a flavor like nothing else.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:17 PM   #20
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I make Spaghetti Carbonara nearly the same way as Diane, we love it and it's perfect for us.

I notice however how passionate Italian cooks can be about what is "authentic" and what is not with this dish, it makes me roll my eyes..

How about we start a discussion on authentic American meatloaf?
We all know there's no such thing, nor do we care.

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