Has anything good ever come along and then remained unchanged? I very much doubt it. All things change, it’s the nature of our universe. Besides, people always want to have things their way. Folk have their tastes and preferences. Pizza is perhaps the worlds’ most popular take away food and comes in so many different forms. It has changed a great deal since it was first created. In fact, many of those “pizzas” offend Italians who often have very clear perceptions of what constitutes a genuine pizza. Gino D’Acampo finds it all a bit perplexing in Buonissimo! He encourages readers to make a Margherita and add some ingredients to make it more exciting “as long as it’s not pineapple – what is that all about?”
I’ve touched upon this subject before when sharing a recipe for paella. One has to be very careful about recipe titles because when it comes to food with heritage, it is very easy to incur the wrath of proud and passionate people. This is no bad thing. It does mean that food bloggers need to write sensitively about regional food and be clear about what something is, or in many cases, isn’t.
Pasta Carbonara. It’s a dish that I actively avoid at restaurants. I’ve eaten gloopy, eggy, garlicky, salty heaps of the stuff and rarely felt like doing anything afterwards except perhaps having my arteries cleaned. In its simplest form, Carbonara should be silky and smooth and made with little more than egg yolks and a few simple ingredients. My own version of this dish includes double cream, which for many, will instantly relegate the recipe to the rubbish restaurant examples mentioned earlier. However, there are no gimmicks in this dish, only good ingredients and simple cooking methods. My version is by no means traditional or definitive, but neither is it an attempt to insult or distort the original. I’m not too worried though, since Pasta Carbonara is a 20th Century recipe and less likely to fire up any genuine anger from would-be pasta experts. In any case, what passes for Carbonara in my house, is a creamy, comforting, cuddle of pasta and dairy decadence. It never fails to satisfy.
Creamy, comforting Carbonara
200g dried pasta (I used spaghetti)
200g bacon lardons
75ml double cream
50g parmesan cheese (grated)
2 tblspoons fresh Greek oregano (finely chopped)
I boiled up the pasta as per the packet instructions and then heated a large amount of butter in a separate pan to fry the bacon in. When the butter had melted, I added the bacon lardons and the oregano. I fried them until just brown and poured in the cream. I then took the pan off the heat and stirred everything. I then ground quite a lot of pepper into the sauce and tipped all of the cheese in before giving it another good stir.
In went the cooked and drained pasta, but I didn’t add any of the pasta water as chefs often make a point of recommending these days. I tossed the pasta in the sauce before adding the eggs and stirring continuously until everything was silky and ready to devour. The real beauty of a good Carbonara is the glossy coat that the eggs give to it. If you make the mistake of adding the eggs while the sauce is cooking, or indeed while the sauce and pasta are still on the heat, you’ll end up scrambling the eggs and getting the same texture as egg fried rice. It’s really important that the pan is off the heat and also that your eggs are pretty fresh.
All that’s left is to enjoy it with a grating of some more cheese and a good glass of white wine. Now that’s what I call comfort food!