We’re pleased to have Theo Michaels share another of his delicious recipes, as part of our feature on his delightful foodie ideas.
Theo’s cooking first came to light during Masterchef 2014 when he reached the heats of the semi-finals and started to gain recognition as championing modern Greek cooking.
Besides Masterchef, Theo has appeared on BBC Breakfast News, Sky TV and The Food Networks, The Big Eat with Lisa Faulkner and Matt Tebbut. Theo has also just signed with a publisher and will be brining out his new book late summer 2016.
AUTHENTIC SPAGHETTI CARBONARA RECIPE
Authentic Spaghetti Carbonara – a wonderfully simple yet delicious dish. Its origins are a topic of debate and but its popularity is not. There are a dozens of carbonara recipes, but I like to cook a carbonara recipe that is ‘almost’ authentic served in my parmesan basket – watch the video as well. For a simple carbonara recipe it is surprisingly rich and always satisfying.
The secret to a carbonara recipe is to keep it simple and use the best quality ingredients you can get. There are only a couple of ingredients in a carbonara recipe so it pays dividends to get the best you can. I like to make spaghetti carbonara and serve it with an egg yolk on top to so when it’s served you can cut the yolk and let it meander through the pasta. This dish also works really well as a small starter.
Obviously Carbonara is the name of the sauce, you can use whatever pasta you want; traditionally spaghetti is used.
Before we get into my spaghetti carbonara recipe here are a few tips on cooking pasta:
Cooking Pasta Tips:
Here are a few tips on cooking pasta recipes:
- When cooking any pasta recipe one thing we do a lot of in England is cook the pasta, put it on a plate and then spoon over a mound of whatever sauce we have made. Stop doing that. Mix the pasta into the sauce first.
- Pasta in itself is usually quite tasteless. OK, there are some flavoured pastas but most is just plain white pasta made from durum wheat. The pasta does have a wonderful texture but doesn’t really taste of anything. Think of pasta as a vehicle for flavour rather than flavour itself. Bit like plain rice.
- Pasta is exceptionally good at soaking up flavours, so next time you cook your spaghetti bolognese; make your bolognese sauce and then remove the pasta from the boiling water just before it is al dente; and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce for the last couple of minutes.
- All that delicious sauce will start to be absorbed by the pasta, making the dish that much more tasty. And that is a bit of a rule I live by when making any pasta dish – finish cooking the pasta in the actual sauce (and don’t worry, you can still add a big pile of sauce on top at the end!).
- Another point the water that the pasta is cooked in goes quite cloudy and that is starch from the pasta; which makes it quite good to thicken sauces.
And finally – it is easy to make your own pasta! Here’s how..
Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe – Ingredients (serves 2):
Pasta (spaghetti is classic, but I prefer linguine) – enough for two people
2 whole eggs + 1 more yolk
2 egg yolks for garnish – optional
1 tablespoon double cream
Handful finely chopped parsley
Teaspoon ground black pepper
100g smoked pancetta diced into 2cm cubes (or smoked bacon as a decent substitute)
Small handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese (about 100g)
Dash of olive oil
Start cooking your pasta in salted water as per the packet instructions (you want to remove the pasta at al dente stage)
Meanwhile; add a tiny drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan and fry your bacon or pancetta until just crispy then remove from the heat.
In a bowl crack your two eggs and the other egg yolk and gently whisk; add the double cream, all the parsley (saving a tiny bit for garnish) and a small handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese and a teaspoon of ground black pepper.
Once the pasta is cooked, pull the pasta from the pot with a pair of tongs or pasta utensil and drop into the frying pan with the pancetta (don’t worry if a little water goes in aswell).
Mix through the pancetta into the pasta and then pour in the egg mixture into the pasta and mix through.
The residual heat of the pasta will cook through the eggs just enough. Traditionally this was eaten as is, with the eggs just set. If you are unnerved about eating eggs that are just set, then turn on the heat (lowest setting) for 30seconds to just cook a fraction more while stirring the whole time. But be warned – it only takes a second longer to end up with scrambled egg!
Assemble the dish.
Twirl the pasta with the tongs, lift it out and gently place in the middle of your bowl and if you are so inclined and fancy being uber-decadent, push a little dent into the middle of the pasta and gently place one raw egg yolk in the middle. Sprinkle with a little black pepper and parsley and serve!
Goes well with lots of chatter, a good dry white wine and especially well if served in my pretty little parmesan baskets!
A couple of points – I haven’t added any salt; the pasta water is salted and the parmesan and pancetta/bacon has enough salt for the dish.
Many people will argue that 1. cream is never used and I usually agree, but I find a couple of tablespoons in the egg mixture just adds something that I quite like! 2. Smoked or unsmoked; traditionally I believe carbonara doesn’t use smoked meat; but again, personally, I prefer it, and if you end up at mine for dinner requesting carbonara – you’ll have it smoked!
To see more of Theo’s recipes and videos as well as read about his Private Dining occasions prepared exclusively by Theo himself visit his website www.theocooks.com and make sure to follow his progress on Twitter at @TheoCooks
We are looking forward to featuring his upcoming book scheduled for late Summer 2016.