You know, for the longest time, I thought that a Carbonara was simply a creamy sauce with bacon in it. I also thought that a Marinara was a Seafood sauce, while a Bolognese was a Tomata based sauce.
Oh wretched fool!
In my travels down lifes path though, I've quickly learnt that:
a basic cream sauce is an Alfredo;
a Bolognese is a traditional meat sauce originating from Bologna that often contains tomato;
a Marinara is actually a classic Tomato based sauce - and does not need to contain any seafood. The term Marinara refers to the Italian word for Sailor - Marinaro.
a Carbonara is actually a cream sauce finished off with egg yolks!
I actually knew about the need for egg yolks in Carbonara sauce a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. To make a 'real' Carbonara, you are supposed to use add in egg yolks at the very end, quickly beaten into the hot cream sauce to form a nice emulsion and then served over very hot pasta so that the egg yolks continue to cook. This can be very tricky and often results in a curdled mixture.
That's why I have never used eggs in my Carbonara. So I suppose I can't call it a Carbonara any longer can I...
Now this is the beauty of cooking! There is this well known theory of Inductive Reasoning which states
If a bird looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's probably a duck.
Therefore, following the same postulation:
If you can make a pasta sauce Look like a Carbonara, Taste like a Carbonara and Smell like a Carbonara, then surely it Must be a Carbonara - even if there are no eggs in it.
So that my dear friends is what I do with my Carbonara. No one has to know that there are no eggs in the sauce. For those of you that are reading this and now have the 'secret' knowledge that I do NOT use eggs in my Carbonara sauce... well, I'm afraid I am going to have to kill you.
So anyway, this is my recipe for a Carbonara Sauce:
8 Bacon Rashers (or use 50g Chicken shredded)
200 gm Fresh Button Mushrooms
200 ml Cream
1 tsp Oregano
3 cloves Garlic
½ Tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Corn Flour
Salt to taste
Slice Mushrooms thinly and set aside. Chop the Bacon (or chicken) and set aside. Chop Garlic and sautee with Black Pepper and oregano. Add in the garlic and fry till fragrant
Add in Mushrooms and bacon (or chicken shreds if using chicken). Cook Well
Add in cream and bring to the boil.
Lower heat and simmer. Add salt to taste
Mix corn flour with a little water and add to mixture.
Cook till mixture thickens
And there you have your sauce!
Sometimes, in the absence of cream, I make a roux with flour and butter and add in lots of milk to simulate cream. Much cheaper and the taste difference is negligible. I also reckon that the best way to serve a Carbonara is with just a little sauce so that it coats the pasta and gets it all gooey. Too much sauce makes the dish too rich and you don't get the taste of the pasta and the subtle mix of flavours. That's what I think anyway.
As usual whenever I make pasta, I submit the post as an entry to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by my lovely friend Ruth over at Onceuponafeast.blogpsot.com.