Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Paccheri Carbonara

While on holiday this summer in Italy, my husband had a dish that was basically Carbonara, but with artichokes and a tubular pasta called Paccheri instead of the usual spaghetti. I'm not a big fan of artichokes at all, but his dish was amazing. The color, the texture and the contrast of the al dente pasta with the crisp, chewy bacon and the creamy, almost satin sauce was just incredible. I had to try to recreate the dish and with some research and practice, I've come up with something that's quite similar. Just a few pieces of this pasta on a plate makes a lovely first course for a dinner party, however this is amazing as a main course for weeknight dinners and takes very little time or effort. The recipe feeds two very hungry people, but can easily stretch to four people with some bread, vegetables or salad on the side.

The pancetta we get here in London is quite salty and a bit different to what we had in Italy, so be careful not to over-salt this dish. Also, if you can't find Paccheri, another tubular pasta would work such as calamari shaped pasta which I see in stores all the time. Alternatively, you can order Paccheri online by clicking here. If that fails, I'd venture to say that penne or even farfalle (bow tie pasta) would work find too should you want to switch it up for the usual spaghetti, which will always work with Carbonara. 

300g Paccheri Pasta (or other tube shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
150g pancetta, cubed
3 large eggs
100g parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons extra thick double cream or regular double cream
salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil a large pot of salted water with a drop of olive oil in it and cook the pasta according to the package directions, checking on it 2 or 3 minutes before it's meant to finish. You want this pasta to be quite al dente.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over low to medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and shred in the garlic or mince and add to the pan. Cook gently for about 10 or 15 minutes over low to med-low heat until the pancetta begins to look bronze and slightly crispy.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and then beat in the cheese and cream before putting the bowl in the oven at 120°C with the door left ajar.

4. Before straining the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. Drain the pasta and then pour it all into the warm bowl with the egg mixture. Mix well to coat all of the pasta in the sauce and then add the pancetta and mix well again. Stir gently so you don't tear the pasta shapes. Gently stir in a tablespoon or two of the pasta water. Add more only if the mixture is too dry.

5. Salt & pepper to taste and serve immediately on warmed plates.

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