Friday, 9 March 2012

Our favourite pasta sauce – Carbonara

A classic family meal in Italy and one of the most popular dishes to create in a cooking class, Pasta alla carbonara was created in Italy the mid 20th century and introduced to cookery books and cooking classes in England in the 1950s.

Most British and US versions feature cream as a key ingredient, but in any genuine Italian cooking class, the chef will tell you that cream is not an ingredient of classic carbonara.

The true origins of the source are uncertain Italy; many believe that the dish was first made for Italy’s charcoal workers, as the word carbonaro means 'charcoal burner' in Italy; whilst other believe it’s merely the charcoal-like flecks of black pepper that have given one of Italy’s favourite dishes its name.

The beauty of carbonara is its simplicity, and you don’t need a cooking class in Italy to handle to basics. Simply take seven key ingredients:

· Bacon - chopped
· Garlic
· Olive oil
· Eggs - beaten
· Parmesan
· Spaghetti
· Black pepper

Sauté the bacon and garlic in the olive oil, then add freshly cooked spaghetti to the pan and swirl around in the grease. Remove from the heat and add raw eggs, coating the pasta thoroughly. Finally, grate fresh parmesan into the dish and season with plenty of black pepper and a little salt.

But to refine this dish, guidance from an authentic Italian chef in a cooking class, plus fresh ingredients from Italy will transform your carbonara from delicious to delizioso.

A decent cooking class in Italy will start with an upgrade of ingredients; rather than use simple breakfast bacon, a genuine Italian cooking class will advise using guanciale – unsmoked Italian bacon made using pig’s cheek; or pancetta – a salt-cured and seasoned bacon made from pork belly. Whilst some chefs in Italy will argue that guanciale is the true meat of a traditional carbonara, others say that a fifty-fifty split of pancetta and guanciale was traditionally used in Italy. Either way, these delicious meats provide a far more subtle and deeper taste than standard bacon.

The cheese is the next upgrade. Traditionally, two of Italy's great hard cheeses can be used: pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The less-expensive and sharper flavoured pecorino cheese is often attributed to the most authentic carbonaras, although others prefer to used Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a combination of both. Again, Italy’s chefs argue over authenticity here, so you may be taught slight variations in a cooking class.

A cooking class in Italy will also help you to master techniques such as classic seasoning, consistency, sauce to pasta ratios, and the tricky technique of adding eggs over heat without scrambling them – a classic carbonara faux-par.

So there you have it. Carbonara: our favourite pasta sauce here at Flavours Holidays. Who would have thought that eggs and bacon could be so refined?

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