Friday, September 14, 2012

Yacht Chef Spaghetti Carbonara

Megan Says:  You all requested a post from Michelle, our yacht chef, so here you go!  I attempted Kale Carbonara a while back but this carbonara recipe made with pancetta is even better! This is a crew and guest favorite. Bon Appetite!

Michelle says:  OK so Megan Me Crazy has asked me to write my first blog post ever. My apologies if this is not up to scratch but I will do my best. My mother taught me to cook when I was quite young. I had no choice. I just had to. It kind of stayed with me. I studied in Cork, Ireland and in 1999, after 3 years of studying 40 hours a week, working 40 hours and, what felt like partying 40 hours a week, I somehow qualified. After being verbally abused and suffering the chef’s wrath for so many years, I swore I would never step foot in a professional kitchen ever again. Well … 13 years later, here I am … still working in a professional kitchen/galley. I just hope I am a little bit nicer … sometimes!

My contribution to “Beauties and the Feast” is Spaghetti Carbonara with PANCETTA.

One of my selling points as a chef, is cooking healthy, with lots of taste, and less of the carbs and fat. You can “Americanize” this dish by adding some fresh cream but to be honest, it is so delish if made just right you really should not need to.
Glorious Pancetta
Pancetta is often called Italian bacon. That's a true enough description, but unlike American bacon, which is most often smoked, pancetta is unsmoked pork belly that is cured in salt and spices such as nutmeg, pepper and fennel. It's then dried for a few months. Pancetta adds a distinctive pork flavor to pasta and other dishes, without infusing into them bacon's smokiness. In the U.S., it's a common substitute for “guanciale,” which is the cured pork cheek that is the traditional base for many classic pastas, like carbonara.

Spaghetti Carbonara

* 1 pound dry spaghetti
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Here is a tip: don’t EVER skimp on good olive oil. Ever)
* 4 ounces pancetta, cubed or sliced into small strips
* 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 1 punnett baby bella mushrooms (optional)
* 2 large eggs
* 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
* Red pepper flakes to taste if you like a bit of kick

The key here is to prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished. It is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (I always add the salt only after the water is boiling) add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian "al dente.") Drain the pasta well, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 3 minutes. Set aside. Add pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until it is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and sauté for less than 1 minute to soften. Add the mushrooms and hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat.

Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.

Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and red chili flakes around the table and ENJOY!


  1. Carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes to order when I eat out and I have attempted it a few times, but will give it another go with this recipe! Love the idea of just leaving the cream out, I’m sure you’re right between the pancetta and eggs it’s probably rich enough! Thanks for guest posting, Michelle. We’d love to see more of your recipes up here!

  2. This recipe came at the perfect time! I had wanted to do a carbonara recipe for this month with pancetta but I wasn't sure which one to try and then this one came in. So, I tried it with bacon (don't judge...I didn't have any pancetta in the house yet) and added some peas. It was so good and even the kids ate it (and they hardly eat anything I make.) This will go in the recipe index for sure. Thank you!!!

  3. So basically pancetta is high-class, aged bacon. I'm in.

    Thanks for the awesome guest post and recipe, Michelle!

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