The site got a gorgeous new look and now you can actually properly read everything on your phones and tablets! Yay!
Now lets make something super delicious and slightly blasphemous. Pasta carbonara was first introduced by the Romans and many cooks/chefs are very particular about what goes into this pasta dish. In its simplest form, it is typically made with guanciale, a type of Italian cured pork, pasta, freshly cracked black pepper, and a creamy sauce made purely of eggs and cheese – pecorino Romano and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano. While there are definite strong opinions on how this dish should be made, I choose to view it as simply a great technique that can be applied to a set of ingredients. In this recipe I am using smoky pimentón laden Spanish chorizo, in season fava beans, and Spanish manchego cheese, but I have also done a smoked salmon version of this dish to great success. If you can’t find fava beans, maybe use some spring peas or even crunchy sugar snap peas. The beauty of pasta is in its versatility and ability to adapt to whatever is in your fridge.
With such a short list of ingredients, making sure that you are using the best quality chorizo, eggs, and cheese makes all the difference. Definitely use chorizo from Spain and definitely use eggs from hens that happily peck at bugs all day long. Chorizo that is actually made in Spain is a revelation; you will think back to all your previous chorizo purchases and wonder why those inferior versions even exist.
Now, to the sauce. The first few times I made this dish, it would not cooperate. Instead of the promised rich eggy creaminess clinging to each noodle strand, the eggs scrambled and I got a something that was separately oily and wet. Yum right? How the hell was I supposed to make raw eggs and cheese magically meld together into a thick sauce? The key I have found isn’t adding cream or milk, but very simply lots of vigorous stirring and a bit of reserved pasta water to help temper the eggs. When I finally succeeded, it really was like magic and boy was it super delicious. With a little practice, this pasta can be a super satisfying and quick weeknight meal.
C H O R I Z O C A R B O N A R A
1 pound fresh fava beans or about 3/4 cup shelled & blanched
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup manchego cheese, grated
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, roughly crushed under a heavy pan
6 ounces spaghetti, 2 servings
1 cup Spanish cured chorizo, diced
1/2 teaspoon pimentón
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
Put a pot of water to boil for the spaghetti. While the water is boiling, break the eggs into a medium sized mixing bowl, add 1 cup of the grated cheese, and cracked black pepper. Lightly beat everything together and set aside.
Once the water has come to a boil, add a generous amount of salt. The water should taste like the sea. Cook the spaghetti until a bit firmer than al dente.
While the spaghetti is cooking, lightly brown the chorizo in a medium sized pan. Add in the pimentón and black pepper, cook for a couple more minutes, turn the heat to low. Since this is a fully-cured sausage, it doesn’t need too much cooking. Right before the pasta is ready, add in the fava beans so that they can warm through. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquid, strain, and add the spaghetti to the pan of chorizo. Toss the pasta so that it is coated with the goodness in the pan. Turn off the flame, pour in the egg mixture and vigorously stir while at the same time slowly adding the reserved pasta water. You may not need to use all of the water. The pasta is ready once the egg mixture has turned into a creamy, thick sauce. Finally to brighten everything up, add in the lemon zest and juice.
Serve with more cheese and the chopped parsley.