A carbonara is one of those dishes people get very passionate about… cream or no cream, whole eggs, or yolks only. This pancetta spaghetti carbonara synthesizes some of the best advice. With the addition of slow-roasted tomatoes, the result was simply delicious.
Bacon and eggs are a classic combination found in different forms across many national cuisines-from Vietnamese bánh mì trứng (here with smoked salmon) to bacon and egg pie from New Zealand. There is just something intoxicating about cured meat and eggs. Eggs benedict is another example, using either ham or smoked salmon. This carbonara uses pancetta, a more refined version of bacon.
A carbonara will work with other cured meats. I found some New Zealand made Venison, Red Wine, and Chilli salami (made by verkerks.co.nz) while shopping at Jason’s Marketplace in Singapore. I couldn’t resist buying a few packs. Great with red wine, but how about as an ingredient? The strong and complex taste of this salami suggested a carbonara. And indeed, that was as successful as this pancetta carbonara.
Eggs or cream?
A great resource is this Guardian article by Felicity Cloake. While using cream is easier than trying to get egg yolks just right, the extra effort of the “no cream but eggs with extra yolks” approach is well worth it. Do practice, though, before doing this for guests. Egg yolks can go from divinely creamy to dry in a short period of time. Please don’t let that put you off, though. The extra effort is worth it.
Slow roasted tomatoes and brocolli
What brings this dish together though, is the slow-roasted cherry tomatoes. They have the sweetness, acidity, and complexity of flavour to balance the richness of the carbonara. A great match.
Pancetta Carbonara with Slow Roasted Tomatoes
- 400 g spagetti
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 500 g cherry tomatoes halved
- 10 sprigs of thyme
- 1 small head broccoli substitute asparagus if you prefer
- 100 g pancetta substitute a good bacon if you prefer
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano if its within your budget
- 4 cloves garlic
- 30 g butter
- 1/2 round camembert at room temperature
- Spread the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray. Lay the sprigs of thyme on top. Drizzle with olive oil then put in the oven for 2 hours at 140 degC.
- Remove from oven, remove the thyme sprigs, and allow to cool.
- Chop up the broccoli to get small florets
- Saute the broccoli in a little olive oil and 10 g butter in a large pan (as we will add the pasta to it later). Broccoli should still be crisp, about 2 minutes
- Remove the broccoli and set aside
- Saute the pancetta in the oil and butter used for the broccoli. Allow the fat to render, but don’t allow to get too crispy
- While the pan is still warm, add the other 20 g butter and allow to melt
- Trim the rind from the camembert, leaving the very soft or runny centre. Enjoy the rind with a glass of wine.
- Gently whisk together the 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup of parmesan, and the runny camembert centre.
- Add the spaghetti to salted boiling water and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes)
- Retain 1/2 cup of the water, and drain the rest.
- Add the pasta to the pan with the pancetta and coat with the oil and butter.
- Add the broccoli, egg and camembert mixture, and cooking water to the pasta. Use tongs to mix well.
- After a couple of minutes the pasta should be coated with a creamy textured sauce
- Serve with the roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.