bacon and cream pasta
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A little bit of delicious, that’s my non-carbonara: chunky pasta with crispy bacon and nutmeg flavoured creamy sauce. Pasta alla griglia – before serving, blast it into golden crust under the grill.
Carbonara, traditional Italian miners’ dish is pasta tossed in a sauce created with raw eggs, a little cooking water and cured pork. Some posh variations use only egg yolk, add Parmesan or arrange an extra yolk in half-shell on top of a mound of pasta for the diner to toss it themselves, steak tartare-style.
Italian pasta sauces, even though they are on the whole very simple, ignite fierce arguments. Ragu Bolognese and white wine, onions in marinara and, indeed, cream in carbonara. Traditional sauce is made by scrambling the egg into creamy dressing with the hot pasta and its cooking liquid. But an awful lot of people are wary of raw eggs in their dinners so to achieve the saucy dressing for their spaghetti, they slosh in a bit of cream instead. That tends to cause an outcry from purists: cream belongs with sauce Alfredo! which is not even indigenously Italian! carbonara fed miners with egg as an essential calorie and nutrition boost!
This is NOT carbonara. Not even ‘an easy carbonara’, which some recipemakers call their productions, as if it was otherwise a complicated dish. It has nothing to do with miners, it’s not orthodox and my only excuse is that it’s incredibly gorgeous nosh.
There’s nothing to it: fry the bacon, pour in cream, cook down a bit and just to make it extra irresistible, give it a blast under the grill. Not exactly a pasta bake, just like it’s not exactly a carbonara. Just – something a little bit tasty, as Orwell would put it.
The grill blast is totally optional but hell – you’re about to consume a plateful of heavy calories so why not make it super-good? The only thing better than a good plate of pasta is pasta al forno, so there - alla griglia to be precise, but that’s a small detail. A non-carbonara, and it may well become your favouritest thing if you try.
bacon and cream pastaServings: 2Time: 25 minutes
- 3-4 rashers smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped finely
- 100ml (½ cup) double cream
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- 200g (2 cups) dried pasta; any chunky shapes
- 3-4 tbsp. grated Parmesan
- butter for the dish
1. Place the bacon in a large cold frying pan and set over medium heat.
2. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for pasta.
3. Stir and cook the bacon until crisp. Pour in the cream, turn down the heat and cook it down for a minute or two. Season with the black pepper and nutmeg.
4. Preheat the grill to medium. Lightly butter a shallow gratin dish.
5. When the water is boiling, cook the pasta a minute shorter than the package instructions. Drain straight into the sauce sloshing a little of the cooking water in as well, add half the Parmesan and toss together.
6. Transfer the pasta into the gratin dish, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and blast under the grill for 5-10 minutes until the top crispens and turns golden. Serve with the extra Parmesan on the side.