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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spaghetti Carbonara

I was under the misconception that spaghetti carbonara was a creamy sauce.  This is apparently incorrect.  A true carbonara sauce is a combination of raw eggs, cheese, bacon, and butter or olive oil with black pepper.  The addition of cream was to come later.

The history of this dish is a little unclear - but some tend to believe that it started making appearances on dinner tables during World War 2, when the American troops were stationed in Italy.  The troops bartered their rations of powdered eggs and milk with the Italian peasants, and hence spaghetti carbonara was born.  When the troops returned home they then replicated the dish, but "Americanised" it with the addition of cream.

What got me wondering about the dish was the fact that it is in the current edition of Good Food Magazine as one of George Calombaris' mum's dishes - they are after all Greek, are they not?  Perhaps spaghetti carbonara is a dish that knows no international boundaries?

Spaghetti Carbonara
From Good Food Magazine - June edition

Serves 4-6

1 litre chicken stock
5 chicken wings
1 cup parmesan rinds (optional) *
3 thyme sprigs
1 clove garlic
500g spaghetti
1 tbs olive oil
200g piece of bacon, cut into 1cm cubes (I used speck)
5 egg yolks
20g butter, diced
2 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley

* Parmesan rinds are the ends of the block of cheese - use them to flavour stocks, risottos or soups.  Discard them before serving.

Bring the stock to boil in a large saucepan on high heat.  Add the chicken wings, parmesan rinds, if using, them and garlic.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, removing any scum from the surface.  Strain through a fine sieve, discarding solids.  Return the stock to a clean saucepan and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, or until reduced to 2 cups.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling water according to packet directions.  Drain and return to the pan.

Heat the oil in a frying pan on high heat.  Cook the bacon for 5 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on a paper towel.

Remove the stock from the heat.  Using a stick blender, blend the egg yolks and diced butter into the hot stock, until smooth and thickened.  Add the sauce to the spaghetti along with the parsley.  Toss well to combine.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Scatter with bacon and serve.

As you can see reading the recipe - there is no use for the chicken wings.  I thought to myself I am not going to just throw these away, but I didn't want to add them to the pasta either, so what should I do with them?

I was baking a loaf of multigrain bread to go with the meal so I decided to put the chicken wings in the oven at the same time.  I had used 7 wings in total.  I lined a baking tray with foil.  Placed the chicken wings on the tray and then sprayed them with garlic infused olive oil spray.  Next I sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on them - and into the oven for the 20-25 minutes that the bread would take.

As for the bread - I made my usual bread mix, but added 30g each of sunflower seeds and linseeds, and 15g of sesame seeds.

After 25 minutes ......

How beautiful are these??

So to go with our bowls of spaghetti carbonara we had a lovely crispy chicken wing.  "The Darlings" declared the wings "better than KFC!"  Now that's some compliment coming from them!

MR. CCC was not with us when we ate, and unfortunately "The Darlings" liked the wings so much that they ate his share - oops!!!!

I will definitely make the wings again - I wonder if it was just a fluke - or can I replicate them again???

So Dear Readers have you made any little gastronomic discoveries whilst in the pursuit of making another dish?  Do tell.


  1. Those wings look AWESOME!! Love the the way that Parmesan came out all blistered and golden!

    Definitely looks wayyyy more appealing than KFC. And probably a darn sight healthier too!

  2. I just blogged about carbonara too - yum! Your method with the stock is quite different to those I have seen before, I bet it adds lots of flavour. I must admit I like the non-traditional addition of cream. This time I added pureed zucchini and made green carbonara which the kids happily ate up.