Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta alla Carbonara

When I order pasta alla carbonara at a restaurant, my first question is always 'does this have cream in it?'. If the dish has cream in it, then I won't order it. Call me a snob, but if you've tried carbonara without cream in it, just like the Italians do it, you will never have the creamed version ever again.

I had my first taste of the authentic Italian pasta alla carbonara in Milan, when I was there for a music festival in 2008. At first, it took a while for my brain to even register that what I was eating was pasta alla carbonara because the Italian dish was completely different from what I was used to. Italians do not use bacon, cream or parmesan cheese in their carbonara. It seemed that bacon, cream and parmesan were American inventions. In Italy, carbonara is made with guanciale (cured pork cheek)  or pancetta (cured and spiced pork), eggs and pecorino cheese. It is a completely different dish altogether. The only similarity is that it is a pasta dish.

The Italian carbonara was creamy and light, unlike the carbonara that I was used to, because instead using heavy cream as the base for the sauce, the Italian version used raw eggs. I loved it! Raw eggs to cream the pasta - the Romans are geniuses!

Since then, I've never looked back. I always make my carbonara with raw eggs. Just remember, use fresh eggs, or there may be a risk of salmonella contamination. Try it,  you'll thank me later.

I'm substituting sausage for pancetta because I can't find pancetta anywhere. Mushrooms are my favorite, and I add them to anything that I'm not cooking for Jason (because he hates it).

Sausage and Mushroom pasta alla carbonara

Ingredients: (one serving)

  • 1 egg
  • 8 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 box pasta, cooked according to the directions on the box
  • 1 Italian sausage, cut into bite sized bits
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of grated pecorino cheese (parmesan or romano are fine if you can't find pecorino)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, Italian sausage bits and the 2 (whole) cloves of garlic until the sausage is cooked. Remove the garlic cloves. (I just love garlic, so I minced them and leave them in there.)

Add the cooked pasta and mushrooms, and continue frying until mushrooms are cooked.

Remove pan from heat, and crack an egg into the pasta. Grate 1/4 cup of pecorino cheese onto the pasta, mix and serve. It doesn't look creamy, but it will be creamy when you eat it. Thank me later. :)

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