So I made a modified pasta carbonara for dinner tonight! For those of you like me that aren’t actually sure what is in a pasta carbonara, it appears to usually be spaghetti, egg yolks, cheese and pancetta. I followed Genaro’s Classic Spaghetti Carbonara recipe from http://www.jamieoliver.com with a few twists based on what I had in the house! So I made it with penne pasta, 2 egg yolks instead or 3, Parmesan cheese and for the pancetta…well I am not sure if what I got from the grocery store is pancetta to be honest. It says Lardons in French and Spekreepjes in Dutch so it appears to be some sort of bacon strips. Not sure if that is really pancetta or not but that is what I used!
First Impressions. This is a dish that I would have looked at in the past and said “whoa” and been quite anxious and nervous around. My first thought would be that looks like it has a whole bunch of stuff in it, nooooo thank you. Not just because I didn’t eat pasta or meat before but the noodles and color of the pasta, it all just wouldn’t have worked for me. Even now when I look at the picture it is still amazing to me that “I just ate that and cooked that” but I did and I know exactly what ingredients went into it (which aren’t as many as I would have thought) and I ate it!
So what did it taste like? So the pancetta or bacon strips are salty and a little smokey and just like bacon except not as thin and crispy because it is cut up into thick smaller cubed pieces. I cooked it in oil with garlic and pepper until it was starting to get crispy and probably could have let it go for even longer to be even crispier and crunchier.
So then you have the pasta which I have really gotten used to at this point and a lot of the other tastes become stronger than the pasta taste in this dish. So it soaked in some of the flavor from the garlic oil and bacon grease.
Then you have the egg yolk flavor, parmesan cheese, pepper and garlic all combining together with the pasta and pancetta. I put pepper in the egg mixture, as well as while the bacon was cooking and a little when everything was put together. I don’t think it would be considered a lot of pepper for most people but for me I can definitely taste the pepper. The pepper heats up your whole mouth. This dish the only salt I put in was in the boiling water for the pasta and your salty flavor is really coming from the bacon.
For the texture you have the crispy pieces of bacon, the slight wetness or slickness on the outside of the pasta from the egg yolk but then you also have the texture of the cheese sticking to it as well. For the smell, you mostly have the smell of bacon and a little bit of the smell form when you cook eggs so it tastes somewhat similar to the smell. Overall, it balances pretty well and it is so interesting to me how all the flavors change and kind of morph with each other to something different.