Food Emperor

La pasta alla carbonara del futuro

By July 14, 2014 Cooking, Savory

A classic carbonara is simply pasta (often spaghetti) mixed with fried guanciale or pancetta, together with its fat, raw eggs and pecorino cheese. The name is derived from carbonaro, which means charcoal burner. It’s said that the dish got its name from being popular among Italian charcoal workers. I don’t know if there’s any truth to the etymology of the name though. Anyway, the dish doesn’t have a tradition stretching back hundreds of years, it was invented in the 1950’s, so you’re not breaking any great grandparent’s hearts by improving it. I know Italians are very traditional when it comes to food. One of the world’s best chefs, Massimo Bottura, said in an interview that locals didn’t appreciate his modern interpretation of Italian dishes. It wasn’t until he was internationally acclaimed that Italians too started to at least accept him as a master of cooking. I’m no Massimo Bottura, but I like cooking as a hobby and I like to evolve recipes. This is my take on the Pasta alla carbonara.

I’m a fan of the variation of carbonara most commonly found outside of Italy. If you ask a French, a Swede or an American what a Pasta alla carbonara is, they’ll likely describe it as a cream sauce. That’s interesting, considering that cream is not an ingredient in the original recipe being served in its country of origin. Also, I like using butter in my Carbonara to get a buttery flavor. Although butter is sometimes used in Italy, over there it’s quite uncommon for this pasta dish. I also like a touch of sweetness from caramelized onions, that go really well with the salty bacon/pancetta. Wait, what?! Onions in a Pasta alla carbonara? I could tell you about the complex mix of sugars and aromatic compounds that develop when onions are caramelized (e.g disulfides, mercaptans, thiopenes, trisulfides), and I could tell you how well the flavor goes with the rest of the dish, but in the end, you should really try it out for yourself. I’m confident you’ll love it.

Time it takes:

  • 1 minute to chop up the onion and pancetta
  • 30 minutes of active and passive cooking (20 minutes of waiting for the onion infusion, followed by 10 minutes to mix in the eggs, and very slowly heat the sauce up while stirring.)
  • 2 minutes to mix it all up and nicely arrange it on a plate.

Ingredients:

  • 250 g of pasta
  • 5 dl of milk
  • 2 dl of full cream
  • 125 g of smoked pancetta or bacon
  • Half an onion
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp of chopped chives
  • 1 dl of grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra cheese for the topping
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Finely chop half an onion, and fry it in a pan, with some butter, until it smells delicious and gets some color.
  2. While the onions are developing all the wonderful aromatic compounds, you chop the smoked pancetta and place it into a cold pan. Slowly heat the pan up, and let the fats of the meat melt. The pancetta will fry in its own fat, it’s wonderful. If you don’t have pancetta, bacon will actually do just as fine. It’s traditionally said that the difference between bacon and pancetta is that one is cured and smoked while the other is just cured, but that’s not true. You’ll often find smoked pancetta in Italy.
  3. Now that the onions are soft and smell delicious, cover them with the milk and cream. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. The onions will infuse in the fat liquid; the milk and cream will make a wonderful base for the sauce.
  4. The pancetta should be crispy by now, so put it on some paper and let it drain. We won’t incorporate the pork fat into the pasta, as the traditional recipe calls for.
  5. By now, 20 minutes have passed, and it’s time to strain the sauce through a fine sieve. Get all that good sauce out of the onions, and pour the liquid back into the pan.
  6. Now carefully separate the egg yolks from the whites, and incorporate the yolks into the sauce on low heat. It is important that you stir and that you keep the heat just bellow the level where the yolk coagulates (it does so at 158 F / 70 C). If the heat is to low, the sauce won’t thicken. If it’s too high, you’ll end up with a nasty grainy texture. If you put the egg whites in there too, you’ll be eating a bad omelette.
  7. Once the sauce has thickened, turn the heat down on the sauce, and prepare for the pasta-boiling. A lot of water, a lot of salt, and a dash of olive oil. I use olive oil not because it keeps the pasta from sticking (if you have a lot of water and boil furiously, it doesn’t stick anyway) but because the oil prevents white foam from rising up and over the edge.
  8. Normally, I would never ask you to pass the pasta under cold water, the starch filled water should be part of a good pasta sauce. But in this case, we don’t want the water nor do we want hot pasta. You see, the heat will screw up the sauce. If you put steaming hot pasta into the carbonara, the sauce will reach the point where the yolks coagulate and we definitely do not want that.
  9. Fold the pasta into the sauce, and add a handful of grated parmesan cheese. Remember that the pasta has some salt in it, the parmesan cheese is salty and the upcoming pancetta is cured with salt. That’s why you should be careful with adding salt to the sauce, but taste it and decide for yourself.
  10. Now, it’s time to serve! Transfer the pasta onto a plate, sprinkle with some extra parmesan cheese, spread some chives on top of it (it tastes good, and it visually prepares your guests for the sweet flavorsome onion flavors in the sauce), add some freshly ground black pepper, and you’re done!

This is amazingly good!

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  • Criss July 15, 2014 at 12:46

    Your recipe seems like a mix between carbonara e pasta alla papalina (I’m from Rome)

    • The Food Emperor July 15, 2014 at 17:18

      Thank you for your comment. That’s very interesting, I haven’t heard about Pasta alla papalina before, but some research turns out that it is indeed a sauce with onions and dairy products in it. As with all evolution of food, same things get different names in different parts of the world (or even different parts of the same country), and different things sometimes get the same name. Carbonara sauce outside of Italy, is most commonly known as a cream based sauce. In the US, adding ham and green peas is not uncommon. When I read different recipes of “alla papalina”, they look very much what a north European or north American would define as Carbonara.

      Thank you for the information, I love learning new thing about food.

    • Christian Tristan January 14, 2016 at 19:12

      Ma quanti esperti e tradizionalisti chef girano per la rete! Vi divertite a rompere i coglioni? Ci tenete a far sentire a tutti la puzza che avete sotto il naso? Studiate un pò e siate meno generosi nell’offrire critiche e insulti, perchè senza un pizzico di fantasia ed inventiva, i piatti tradizionali che difendete con le unghie e coi denti non sarebbero mai nati! Continua così Food Emperor!

      • Christian Tristan January 14, 2016 at 19:15

        Sorry Criss, I wanted to write a separate post 😉

  • Alexis July 20, 2014 at 02:46

    Minchia, non ascoltare gli stronzi che dicono che non è la vera ricetta: che vadano fanculo questi figli di suca minchia ! E se protestano ancora friggiamo il loro cazzo in padella. Va fanculo !

    • The Food Emperor July 20, 2014 at 02:50

      Va fanculo tutti.

  • disicuromegliodite July 30, 2014 at 21:20

    RINCOGLIONITO

    • eschatos1 August 27, 2014 at 03:11

      Vafanculo!

  • Hyde Quinn August 21, 2014 at 18:04

    La carbonara ho sempre pensato che sia il piatto che genera in assoluto più discussioni su come vada fatto, anche tra gli italiani.
    Con la panna non ho ancora provato (proverò!), ma la cipolla l’ho aggiunta anch’io da un sacco di tempo a come faccio il soffritto per la pancetta di solito e ci sta benissimo, anche se non rientra nella ricetta “tradizionale”. E anche a me dicono che non capisco un cazzo. Mah.
    Agli stronzi che dicono che solo gli italiani sanno fare la carbonara, vorrei far notare che in giro per l’Italia è pieno di coglioni (anche nei ristoranti!) che aggiungono IL TUORLO e, non contenti, per paura dell’uovo “crudo”, lasciano la pasta sul fuoco dopo aver aggiunto l’uovo. Quanto stronzi bisogna essere? Sarà meglio aggiungere un po’ di latte/panna che non fare una cazzo di frittata.
    Fregatene dei commenti degli italiani su cosa è “sbagliato” o no, per esperienza personale non lo sappiamo neanche noi.

    Per il resto, sei il mio nuovo idolo, mi fanno spanciare il tono e il linguaggio con cui descrivi le ricette, continua così!

    • Hyde Quinn August 21, 2014 at 18:36

      L’ALBUME* 😀

    • The Food Emperor October 23, 2014 at 18:14

      Ho capito, sono un porco schifoso.

  • eschatos1 August 27, 2014 at 03:12

    Questa ricetta è strabuona minchia vafanculo. Per evitare il qwaggwlo però a che temperatura mi consigli di tenere la crema? Grazie vafanculo.

    • eschatos1 August 27, 2014 at 03:14

      Mi spiego: su una minchia di piastra elettrica del cazzo. livello 1-2-3-4 ecc…, capito?

    • The Food Emperor August 28, 2014 at 11:04

      A 65 ° C il tuorlo d’uovo si addensa.

      • eschatos1 August 30, 2014 at 05:30

        Ok, grazie e vafanculo

  • Alberto September 5, 2014 at 22:09

    I’m Italian and I did enjoy this recipe.

    • The Food Emperor October 23, 2014 at 18:15

      Thank you, Alberto!

  • battistabatT October 23, 2014 at 14:32

    Tu di cucina italiana non ne capisci una beata minchia!! Cucina come cavolo vuoi ma non la chiamare pasta alla carbonara, chiamala pasta foodemperor all’uovo e magari qualche folle la proverà… Ma per il resto non è roba per te.

    • The Food Emperor October 23, 2014 at 18:15

      Giusto, non so un cazzo.

      • tommycomix November 30, 2014 at 14:18

        Non è vero, si vede che ci sai fare!

  • Marcin October 29, 2014 at 15:30

    I`ve just made this dish, it`s absolutley awesome, much better then the original receipt. And please, make more movies in polish. Jesteś gość. Trzymaj tak dalej!!!

  • Ale November 8, 2014 at 20:21

    Ok, sei riuscito ad attirare l’attenzione e forse questo era il vero scopo finale. Ma lascia perdere considerazioni circa il futuro di un piatto che ha fatto la storia e la tradizione della cucina italiana. Chiamalo come ti pare ma non certo carbonara. Quando poi sarai in grado di cucinare una vera carbonara come solo pochissimi anche in italia sanno fare ( da non confondersi con le frittatine a pallottoline ripassate!!!) allora ne riparliamo di varianti, che pur sempre sono e restano varianti. Ok, ti sei inventato un piatto, discutibile o no, ma prima assaggia una carbonara vera e poi mi dici di che “futuro” parli. p.s. Hyde Quinn – da quello che scrivi sembra che una carbonara da poesia non l’hai proprio mai assaggiata, altrimenti faresti altre considerazioni (non serve nessuna crema per fare la carbonara cremosa).

    • El_Disonauro November 16, 2014 at 15:17

      Sei intuile. Stai zitto. C’hai il cervello qwaggolato.

      • The Food Emperor November 18, 2014 at 11:29

        Lo so sono molto triste.

        • tommycomix November 30, 2014 at 14:19

          Io invece la provo

  • Tucano February 16, 2015 at 19:06

    Question: I had sort of an epilexic attack while whatching this video, but you seem to know a huge shitload about cooking, flavours, chemicals etc, so I totally respect you, the dish and all the reaserch behind. What’s the question? Coming.
    Is there a reason why avoiding guanciale? One that’s not Vafanculo cazzo mi frega. That’s the best part of a carbonara for me, so I am really curious.

    • The Food Emperor March 5, 2015 at 19:08

      Hey Tucano! Sorry about the late reply. To be honest, there’s no reason not to use guanciale. The original recipe for Carbonara is wonderful. In this video, however, I was showing how to make a “Carbonara”. The quote unquote is due to the fact that outside of Italy, Carbonara is basically a cream sauce with smoked pork belly in it. All jokes put aside, I will make a classic carbonara in a near future and put up a video. Call it a Carbonara of the past if you will.

  • xsnakedoctor March 17, 2015 at 20:01

    I’d been meaning to cook this dish for some time now and finally decided to tackle it last weekend. I must bow down to your greatness as my girlfriend was thoroughly impressed and enjoyed every last bite of it. I’m pretty terrible in the kitchen so whenever I see you post a new recipe/dish I immediately look it over. If I feel that my skills are sufficient, I try it and in this case, I scored big time!

    Thanks for sharing this dish, it was absolutely delicious and as a matter of fact, I’ve actually brought some to work for lunch that I’ll be enjoying here shortly!

    Hope you’ve been well and I hope to see more videos from you soon!

  • Victor April 20, 2015 at 21:29

    I made it yesterday and it was really good 🙂
    Thank u for the good recipe. Can i publish it on my culinary blog?

  • Louise June 18, 2015 at 23:23

    My mum always did it like this (she’s french) and I discovered real Carbonara a lot later.. that’s a good sauce but I think the magic of Carbonara id ti have a creamy sauce without cream.. so in a certain way youre cheating 😀 but just a question.. what about the pepper? Carbonara is pepper-based, it calls for a lot (like A LOT) of pepper.. and you forget it? That’s a shame 😀

    • The Food Emperor June 24, 2015 at 11:37

      There’s pepper on it! You just grind that pepper all over it, I’ll applaud it!

  • Patryk October 17, 2015 at 12:40

    Ale to musi być kurwa dobre. Czekam na film po polsku 🙂

  • Michele November 28, 2015 at 21:29

    Ciao Food Emperor,
    ho appena provato la tua carbonara del futuro ma cazzo! Il sugo mi è venuto tutto liquido di minchia schifoso.
    Ti chiedo due cose:
    1) per 250 gr di pasta, mezzo litro di latte e 2 dl di panna non sono tanti?
    2) ho lasciato il sugo sul fuoco a 65° C (con termometro a sonda!) per 10 minuti, ma non si è addensato. Cosa ho sbagliato nella vita? Cosa ho fatto per meritarmi questo?
    Peccato perché il sapore era buonissimo. Solo che volevo farla bene così poi la mia compagna si bagnava tutta, invece no.

  • Superzimbello November 29, 2015 at 01:02

    La salsa con la cipolla è un fottuto capolavoro che pero’ digerirò tra un mese. Non la smetto di ruttare e i miei rutti sanno di cipolla. Nessuna donna vorrà baciarmi. Comunque davvero buona, anche se il piatto m’e’ venuto un po’ freddo. Devo organizzarmi per finire tutte le cotture nel tempo giusto senza fare la frittata. Epic meal.

  • pogus December 10, 2015 at 12:43

    What do you mean by “full cream”? Is it sweet or sour cream and what’s the % of fat?

  • pasquale January 20, 2016 at 18:12

    bravo bravo e ancora bravo mi si è coagulato il cazzo è buonissima

  • Matteo Cagliari July 11, 2016 at 20:50

    Questa é la Pasta alla Carbonara dell’Amore e del Sesso! This recipe is a legend of cooking! Ave a te Emperor, minchia che buona!!
    Una richiesta intima dalle mutande: Food Emperor Maximus esplora la Cucina della Sardegna! Culurgiones!