Carbonara – The dish we students love but mess up, including Gordon Ramsay

Carbonara, we all know and recognize this Italian pasta. The history behind it is quite unclear since there is no official record of the name carbonara before WW2, but the dish itself is recorded back to the 18th century. Some say it comes from WW2, some say it originates from coal miners, and some say it’s from the countryside. It’s somewhat of a legend, nobody knows exactly where it started but we are all familiar with and love it. We’ve all had it at a restaurant sometime and know what it looks like and how it should taste. But even then, when we make it at home, few of us are actually able to recreate the Italian cousin (Including Gordon Ramsay). That’s why I will now tell you the recipe and why it’s great for lunch boxes, in a student’s economy.

In it’s originally form we use spaghetti, fettuccine or linguine. But since we are students and often on a budget, there is no shame when it comes to choosing what’s on biggest sale at the supermarket. A great choice during the inflation is Ica Basic Spagetthi, 1 kilo for 12kr if I remember correctly. The pasta should be cooked until Al Dente. The choice of meat is usually Pancetta or guanciale. But I preferably choose bacon since I won’t pay 100kr just for the meat. Bacon works really well as a substitute for the originally meat. The Bacon should be seared until dark brown and crispy, since the crunchiness works well with the consistency of the pasta.

The Carbonara sauce consists of egg, cheese (Pecorino or parmesan) and pasta water. Since you want the starch from the pasta (Which you get from the pasta water) in the sauce. THERE IS NO CREAM IN PASTA CARBONARA (And no peas, mushroom, chili or parsley GORDON) !!! The creaminess comes from the eggs, cheese and starch. When it comes to the eggs, I preferably just use egg yolk. But you can use 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg for example or just whole eggs. Maybe if you had a rough training the same day and need some protein (The protein is in the egg white, not egg yolk). You always add salt in the end since there is salt in the bacon and pasta water.

So you start to cook the pasta and sear the bacon. While the pasta is cooking, mix the eggs and the cheese together in a separate bowl, then combine with some pasta water (1 dl for example) depending on desired consistency or amount of portions. When the bacon is seared and the pasta is ready, you add the pasta to the bacon pan and turn off the stove so the pan has some time to cool down. If you miss to do this and you have egg whites in the mix, it might turn into scrambled eggs with pasta and bacon. So pour the cheese and egg mixture in the pan and toss it around or mix with spatula.

Serve with the desired amount of salt and A LOT of pepper, since the pepper is kind of the main ingredient in this pasta. That’s where the taste and the symbolic Carbonara look is.

Now you might wonder, how this can be a good lunch box? Well, when you have portioned it out and put in the freezer you can take it out and easy warm in a microwave within 3 months before turning bad. When you freeze the pasta and heat it up again, especially in a microwave, some of the creaminess disappears. My trick to make it creamy again (Because nobody likes dry pasta) is actually to add……. cream. Not a lot, just a tablespoon or two. The trick is also do it when the pasta is already warm and you have to put in the microwave for around 30 more seconds. Then you achieve the same creaminess once again. So, lunch box of the month, Pasta Carbonara.

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