BBC radio 2

Did you hear our how to guides on Simon Mayo's Radio 2 Drivetime show?

You may have read about Howopia in The Telegraph?

How to cook real Italian pasta carbonara

Your rating: None
Have you ever experienced the frustration of staring hopelessly at the dish you've just prepared, comparing it with sadness to the perfect-looking image you've found in a recipe book? Well, no more. Following these few steps, you will be able to offer your hosts (and yourself!) a divine Italian pasta carbonara that will conquer everyone's taste buds with its simple but dense creamy flavour enriched by the presence of smoked bits of bacon.
What you'll need: 
Olive oil
1 garlic clove
Half a white onion
3/4 smoked bacon rashers (for 2 people)
1 egg per person
A splash of white wine
Durum wheat pasta
Milk or cream
Parmesan and pecorino romano
Salt and black pepper
Whenever you cook pasta, make sure you have the sauce nearly ready before you start boiling water: you wouldn't want to finish preparing the sauce and find out that, in the meanwhile, most of the water has evaporated. Pour some olive oil in a frying pan (not too much, as the grease from the bacon will have its part too later in the process) and add a crushed garlic clove and half a white onion chopped quite thinly. Leave it to fry until both the onion and the garlic have acquired a promising golden colour. Don't add the bacon yet, this will allow onion and garlic to develop their taste completely, on their own, without the help of any other ingredient.
Chop the smoked bacon rashers in the size by you preferred, without eliminating the fat parts that contribute to give a delicious taste to the whole dish. Add the bacon to the onion and garlic and let all the ingredients fry and mix together until you see the bacon is starting to darken. Don't be afraid to let it "burn" a little bit, this will make the dish even tastier.
Once the bacon has started to darken, add a generous splash of white wine. The choice is completely yours when it comes to which white wine you should select, but my advice is to always use a bit of the one you would want to drink, don't go for the cheapest one, as it might make the dish a bit sour. Keep cooking until you see the wine has created a denser texture, a sort of watery cream. Then turn off the hob.
At this point, you need to worry about cooking the desired portions of pasta. Fill a saucepan with water, and remember, the more water you add in proportion to the amount of pasta you want to cook, the better the pasta gets cooked and doesn't become all sticky, and then place it on the hob to boil. Once it starts boiling, add 2 tablespoons of salt and put the pasta in the saucepan, making sure there are no parts that are still not covered by water. Only at that point, you should start counting the minutes indicated on the packet of pasta as the cooking time. If your purpose is preparing real Italian pasta, I suggest that you only consider the shorter cooking time indicated on the packet, so that the pasta stays a bit hard, "al dente", as we call it in Italy. Once it's done, drain it and pour your pasta in the frying pan where you have onion, garlic, bacon and olive oil already mixed together.
While you wait for the water to boil in the saucepan, get one egg per person, whisk them in a bowl, then add some black pepper and abundant grated parmesan and pecorino romano. This last type of cheese is essential to the accomplishment of your carbonara. You will find out that the dish is mainly centered around pecorino and its very strong smell and taste.
Once the pasta is ready, boiled and drained, turn on the hob where the frying pan still is and start mixing the pasta with the rest of the sauce with decision and energy. Pour in the eggs with the black pepper and grated parmesan and pecorino, then keep mixing everything together, wile the hob is still on, continuously, until you see that the eggs are still a bit liquid and have created a cheesy cream with little bits of scrumbled eggs. Add some cream or milk to make the sauce even thicker, then let it evaporate for about 1 minute, so that the entire dish is now a dense creamy sauce covering pasta fully. Serve hot, adding some more black pepper on top.
Don't be afraid to taste throughout the process of cooking, as it is often essential to a dish that is winning in taste!
Eat with a glass of full-bodied white wine to fully appreciate the creamy sauce.


Post new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Featured writers

We have had a chat with a couple of our more experienced writers.

Find out more about their experiences and why they contribute to Howopia.

Spotlight on two writers.

Share this

How To guides

Howopia is a new website dedicated to bringing together a community of experts to create the most useful 'How To' guides, to help you to achieve almost anything.

Related links