Tuesday, December 19, 2006

TagliatelleCarbonara Prosciutto

Spaghetti carbonara was unknown before World War II - that is my piece of thoroughly useless information for the day - quite a good one, I think. It's origins lie in the war when American servicemen in Rome had lots of eggs and bacon and the locals had pasta and cheese and the natural end result was this simple and utterly fabulous dish.

If I was thinking about making it from memory rather than checking a recipe I would probably think I needed cream but in fact there is no cream in carbonara. What there is, is a silky luxurious sauce of egg yolks and cheese that cooks with the heat of the pasta leaving each strand delicately coated. When you eat it the sensation is definitely an unctuous richness - perfect for mid week supper if life is otherwise seeming bleak. Or for any other excuse you care to come up with to indulge in this treat.

This recipe comes from brilliant Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers 'Pasta & Ravioli' edititon in the River Cafe Pocket Books series.

Tagliattelle Carbonara Prosciutto

350g dried egg tagliatelle
300g prosciutto slices, cut into strips 1cm wide
100g unsalted butter
150ml white wine
6 egg yolks
50g parmesan, freshly grated, plus extra for serving
50g aged pecorino, freshly grated
extra-virgin olive oil

Heat 1tbs of olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan, add two thirds of the prosciutto and fry very briefly. Add half of the butter and the wine. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, just to combine the wine with the butter and the prosciutto juices. Mix the egg yolks with the cheeses and season. Cook the tagliatelle in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water.

Add the pasta to the prosciutto then stir in the egg mixture and the rest of the butter, letting the heat of the pasta cook the egg. Add the reserved cooking water if the sauce seems too thick. Stir in the remaining prosciutto and serve with extra parmesan.

This will seve four.

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