Pasta alla carbonara is a classic Italian pasta dish which is based on eggs, bacon, cheese and pepper. Traditional carbonara is often made with spaghetti, but in Australia it’s more common to find fettuccine being used. I like to add cream, chicken and mushrooms to give it a little more flavour, but bear in mind these are not authentic ingredients.
- 500g long pasta
- 1 free range chicken breast, thinly sliced
- ~150g free range bacon or pancetta*, shredded
- 3-4 mushrooms, chopped
- ~250ml cream
- 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan) cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente or just prior. Stir often to ensure it does not clump together.
Whilst the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon in a large pan until the fat is rendered. Set aside. Fry the chicken in the same pan and add the mushrooms.
Whilst the chicken is cooking, combine the cream and egg yolks with a handful of cheese. You can use whole eggs if you wish but the yolks make it richer and creamier.
When the pasta is ready, immediately drain it (reserve some of the starchy water) and add it to the fry-pan with the chicken, bacon and mushrooms to finish cooking. Remove from heat and quickly stir through the sauce. The residual heat from the pasta should cook the eggs and thicken the sauce. If it is not stirred quickly or left on the heat the eggs may scramble. Don’t worry if this happens though, it will still taste the same. Add some of the reserved water if it is too dry.
Season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley and extra cheese.
*Free range pork products can be difficult to find in Australia. Some bacon is sold as “bred free range” which means the pigs are born outdoors, but then transferred to an indoor enclosure after 21 days to be fattened up for 4 months before slaughter. You may wish to watch this 60 Minutes story about the Australian pork industry. Please leave a comment if you know a good source of free range pork products.