I’m mortified that there has been such a long gap since I last posted.
It seems like such a long time ago that I was cooking shin of beef. Partly because it was, but also because I’ve been cooking so many other things in between….because I’ve got a new job – which has liberated me from a desk, and launched me into a kitchen. So thank you, dear readers for being so supportive, because it’s partly through your encouragement with this blog that I’m now cooking and writing as a real-life job. Dreamy!
The company – Sous Chef – is a website which launches this summer, providing “inspiration, ingredients and equipment from the world’s best kitchens”. My lips are mainly sealed until it launches, but I can reveal that my time is currently spent rehydrating woodear mushroom, demystifying konnyaku, trying sous vide chicken breast alongside fried chicken breast, reading and learning a lovely lot about bread baking, meat curing and lots of other wonderful things which definitely all feels far more like indulging in a hobby than a typical day in the office.
A couple of weeks back we got a big delivery of very cheap pigs’ cheeks. Pretty useless in their raw form – but absolutely delicious when cured in the cellar and turned into guanciale. Being the lucky kind of gal I am, I managed to snaffle one of the cured pig’s cheeks, and have been making some delicious, and exceedingly authentic carbonara ever since.
The amazing thing about the guanciale is the flavour that’s infused into the fat, and the clean bite which has more of a bouncy, mushroom or seaweed-like consistency than chewy, greasy bacon fat. It the traditional meat used in carbonara – but because shop-bought guanciale is really rather expensive in comparison to the home-cured stuff, it’s not often used in cookbooks.
When the website is up and running, we’re going to be selling curing equipment, and will be writing lots on home preserving…but for the time being, bacon lardons are a fine substitute for those of you who don’t have any guanciale lying about the place.
Carbonara might seem like an extravagant meal, but it’s quick and easy to put together after work, and it’s an super one-person meal – unlike a curry or a pie which I can’t help but make at least four portions for, even if it’s just me on my lonesome!
Ingredients (for 2 people)
150g dried spaghetti
15g fresh, flat leaf parsley
2 egg yolks
Fresh black pepper
bacon lardons (use your judgement – I think that the equivalent of about 2 bacon rashers/person is ample, but I’ve been cooking for hungry boys recently who skew my judgement by always eating so damned much. So anything from 150g-1kg dependent on who’s coming for supper)
parmesan (same as above applies)
Bring a pan of water to boil, and add the spaghetti with a pinch of salt and drizzle of oil. Put the lardons/guanciale in a frying pan and fry until the fat’s browning and the meat is crisping up. Meanwhile, chip the flay leaf parsley, and finely grate the parmesan.
When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it, and stir in the parsley, parmesan and meat.
Separate the eggs, and nestle half an egg shell containing just the yolk into each serving. Once at the table tip the egg yolk into the spaghetti and stir it in – the heat given off by the pasta will lightly cook it.
Top with just a little more parmesan (just to be safe), and some hefty grinds of fresh, black pepper.