Recipe: Cheat’s carbonara

You know how it’s a complete no-no to have cream in your pasta carbonara?! Well, during lockdown I had to forgo my principles a little when I was short on eggs. The honesty box for eggs at the village farm was under high demand and sometimes you were unlucky and went without.

So I ended up adding a little cream to my egg yolks and parmesan and it was actually so much easier to make a carbonara that way. No holding of breath and giving a silent prayer that it would turn out ok. It just worked, so for us non-Italians I actually think this is the best way to learn how to make this dish. And then when you’re confident and can make it in your sleep, make it without the cream and experience the authentic version, because it’s pretty great. Yes, better than this version with cream. But when you’re low on eggs or tired one night after work, then this is my go-to!

Cheat’s carbonara, serves 2

Very similar to proper carbonara, but much easier to make!

1 large free-range egg yolks

40g Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

2-3 tbsp cream

150g good quality pancetta, diced

200g dried good quality spaghetti

1 clove of garlic

extra virgin olive oil

black pepper

a pinch of salt

Put the egg yolk into a bowl, finely grate in the Parmesan, season with pepper, then mix well with a fork and put to one side. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente.

Fry the pancetta in a little oil over medium-high heat. Peel the garlic and crush it and add it to the pan for flavour – remove if it browns or when finished cooking. Reserve some cooking water and drain the pasta and add it to the pancetta pan. Toss well over the heat so it really soaks up all the flavour, then remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the pasta back to the spaghetti pan, season and add a splash of the cooking water, then pour in the egg mixture and the cream. Mix well (I like to use tongs to move the pasta around in the pan), adding more cooking water (if needed) until lovely and glossy. Serve with a grating of parmesan and extra pepper. 

Recipe: spaghetti carbonara with girolles

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As we’re bang in the middle of the mushroom season (and it looks like a great mushroom year this year, judging from the bounty my foraging friends present) I thought it appropriate with a little homage to the lovely girolle. Which also happens to be one of my favourite mushrooms!

I think mushrooms and pasta go well together, and I have several great recipes on the blog already, but as I learned to perfect a proper carbonara I couldn’t help but experiment with it too. You see, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that the addition of girolles to the creaminess and saltiness of a carbonara would work really well, and so I tried it out on my favourite guinea pigs; my best friend, her husband and my boyfriend.

As I really wanted the girolles to take center stage I was afraid the salty pancetta would take over, but with the double amount of girolles compared to pancetta in weight, it worked really well. I also fried the mushrooms separately to the pancetta, adding plenty of butter, garlic and seasoning to really make them hold their own.

Hope you like my little experiment as much as I do. For me, this is just the perfect Friday night pasta, especially in autumn, obviously paired with a large glass of smooth red wine and great company.

Spaghetti carbonara with girolles, serve 4

6 egg yolks 

80 g parmesan + extra for serving

175 g good quality pancetta, diced

350 g fresh girolles, washed and patted dry

2 tbsp butter

400 g dried good quality spaghetti 

2 garlic cloves

olive oil

salt and black pepper

Put the egg yolks. in a bowl and grate the parmesan into the bowl. Add some pepper and mix thoroughly with a fork. Put to the side. Cook the spaghetti in salted water according to the instructions on the packet, until al dente. 

Fry the mushrooms in butter and a little oil on medium-high heat. Finely chop a garlic clove and add it to the pan. Season well. Pour the mushrooms into a bowl and leave to cool a little. Fry the pancetta in oil on medium-high heat. Peel a garlic clove, crush it with the palm of your hand and add to the pan – remove it if it browns or when the pancetta is cooked. Drain the cooked pancetta on kitchen towel. 

Fill a mug or small jug with pasta cooking  water and drain the pasta. Mix the spaghetti with the pancetta and mushrooms and remove from heat. Pour everything back into the pasta pan, add some pepper and some of the pasta cooking water. Add the egg and parmesan mixture and mix well. Add more pasta water if the mixture is too dry. Divide into bowls and serve with grated parmesan and black pepper. 

Chorizo meatball carbonara

I found this recipe in River Cottage Everyday, one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cookcooks.

Pork mince seasoned with paprika and fennel, then shaped into meatballs and together with cream, egg yolks and spaghetti, this is a fab pasta dish. Especially when served with heaps of freshly grated parmesan.

The Swedish way to make meatballs is to add breadcrumbs and an egg to the mixture, which makes the meatballs less compact and juicer, and I think I will apply this next time as these meatballs turned out a bit compact, but the seasoning was spot on.

Chorizo meatballs, makes 15-20

Adapted after Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe.

500 g pork mince

2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1,5 tsp hot smoked paprika

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

salt

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/8 tsp cayennepepper

30 ml red wine

black pepper

olja for frying

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. This is easily done using your hands or a wooden spoon. Roll into small meatballs. Fry in oil.

Carbonara, serves 2

300 g spaghetti

2 egg yolks

50 ml double cream

parmesan

salt, black pepper

Cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain. Mix egg yolks with cream. Add the pasta, salt and pepper. Serve with the meatballs and parmesan.