Food: Recipe – Carbonara
Little crispy bits of smokey bacon mixed with creamy egg are what make Carbonara feel decadent, and thanks to new research that reassesses the dangers of saturated animal fats, you can eat it without angst over your arteries
By Louise Crosby
I used to think bacon was the worst thing you could eat, all that saturated animal fat clogging up the arteries, bringing on heart disease. Maybe it’s dawning on me that life is short, maybe it’s the recent thinking that saturated fat is not the killer we thought it was, but I’m eating bacon now and I don’t feel bad about it.
Indeed, there is increasing evidence that the anti-saturated fat campaign underway for so many decades hasn’t worked, that the low-fat, high carbohydrate diet we’ve been advised to follow has only led to soaring rates of obesity and diabetes, while heart disease has not declined. Meanwhile, recent studies have found that saturated fats found in meat and dairy products are not as bad for us as previously thought. One study, led by researchers at McMaster University and published last year in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found that saturated fats are not linked to an increased risk of stroke, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or death. The real culprits appear to be trans fats and refined carbohydrates, including sugar.
Mind you, this isn’t an invitation to load up on saturated fat. But it seems it can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation and along with other nutritious foods like fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Even Gwyneth Paltrow has accepted bacon into her life, or at least into her latest cookbook. GP has of late been mostly vegan and gluten-free, at least that was my impression, but four of the recipes in her new book It’s All Easy contain bacon or its Italian cousin pancetta: there it is on Avocado Toast; in her Fried Egg Sandwich; in a Cobb salad; and in this pasta Carbonara.
I’d say it’s a positive development. The little bits of smokey, crispy bacon, combined with creamy eggs, Parmesan cheese and bucatini (a noodle like spaghetti but fatter), turn simple pantry ingredients into a quick and luxurious dinner. This is the kind of food you want to make when you’ve had a busy day and don’t have the energy to go to a lot of trouble. And now you can eat it without any guilt.
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut into small dice
2 egg yolks (or 3, to make it extra creamy)
1 large egg
1½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
¾ pound bucatini
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta. In an 8-inch saute pan, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. Combine the egg yolks, egg, Parmesan, and pepper in a large bowl. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the hot pasta cooking water (the temperature is important because you are going to use it to cook the egg) and set aside. Next, drain the pasta, and add it to the bowl with the cheese and eggs, tossing immediately to mix everything together.
Add the pancetta and any rendered fat from the pan to the bowl, toss to coat, and add the pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time until the sauce reaches a creamy consistency (this usually takes about ¼ cup).
Adjust with extra cheese, pepper, and salt to taste.
THE EX-PRESS, May 12, 2016