When I’m not travelling, there are a couple of days in the week where I will dine alone, while my kids are with my ex.
On these days, I tend to eat badly. I eat leftovers which is fine but also too much canned and processed food. I sometimes get into a bit of a funk and will crawl into bed really early after eating junk food
Occasionally, however, I feel the need to make a nice dish for one, be civilised, and eat something really tasty and beautifully plated.
Today I decided to make the most ridiculously tasty Carbonara the old fashioned way (egg yolks and parmesan- no cream) but with a few personal tweaks.
These portions are just for 1 pax – increase the portions accordingly if you are cooking for more.
1. Spaghetti – a handful about 1/4 or up to 1/3 of a typical pack
2. Shaved gouda cheese
3. Shaved Parmesan
4. 3 slices of bacon cut into thick chunks
5. One heaped spoonful of chopped garlic
6. 2 egg yolks
Pre- heat the oven at 230C.
Grate Gouda cheese into a small baking dish. Once the oven is heated, put the grated Gouda into the oven. Bake at 230C for 20-30 minutes until it is crispy and brown, then remove and leave it outside to cool.
When it is cool, use a spoon or ladle to break up the Gouda into small bits.
Next, cut three slices of bacon into thick chunks.
In a heated frying pan, add two spoonfuls of olive oil. Slow fry a heaped spoonful of garlic until semi crispy, then remove from the heat and set aside.
In the same pan (there is no need to add more oil ) add in the sliced bacon and fry until crispy.
In a large bowl, grate parmesan cheese and add in two egg yolks. Add a generous amount of pepper and half a pinch of salt. All the cheeses and bacon will make the dish saltish hence only half a pinch.
Add in 2/3 of the fried garlic and fried bacon (leaving 1/3 for garnishing and final plating) into the yolk egg and parmesan emulsion. Mix well.
Boil a pot of water with a pinch of salt and bring it up to boil. Boil the spaghetti on a full boil.
Always check your pasta packing for the recommended cooking time.
But always take a strand to try it out close to the recommended cooking time to decide exactly how cooked you want your pasta to be, and to reach that Al Dente magical doneness.
In this case the recommended cooking time was 12-13 minutes but because I’m only cooking a small portion ( so it cooks faster ) and because I like my pasta with a bit of bite, I was happy with my tasting and switched off the fire at the 10th minute.
Drain the pasta immediately (but leave a little pasta water in the pot). Remember if you leave it in the pot with the hot water, the pasta will continue cooking and may become too soft.
Some recipes will recommend that you pour the egg yolks into the pot to toss. I find that the pot is too hot and doing this really cooks the eggs too quickly, and when that happens, it cannot be undone. So I prefer to toss it in the big bowl which is cold to the touch.
Toss the spaghetti well in the bowl. Try the pasta and add more pepper and salt at this stage, if necessary, while tossing.
Also decide at this stage on the consistency. If it is too thick, add the pasta water one spoon at a time tossing constantly. The pasta should be loose and slightly glistening.
Remove the ingredients of this bowl into a serving plate.
Grate more parmesan over the plate.
Garnish the plate with the remainder of the garlic and bacon.
Sprinkle the baked gouda bits over.
The egg yolks and parmesan blended beautifully with the bacon which perfumed the dish.
And the gouda bits ? It added another incredible layer of taste and elevated the dish to a different level – savoury crunch and a heavenly aroma.
It transformed reality from this
If only for a brief moment.
Happy Feasting !