This recipe is built off the original and proper carbonara recipe, so you can follow the recipe as you please, or use ingredients of your choosing to create your own delicious carbonara recipe. The most important thing here, as with any recipe, is understanding how to troubleshoot this recipe so that no matter what you do, you always come out with great results, I say this because this is actually quite an easy recipe to mess up.
INGREDIENTS (feeds 2):
30g Kilishi (Nigerian Beef Jerky)
2 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp black pepper
15g grated blue cheese
90 dried Tagliatelle pasta or 110g fresh Tagliatelle pasta (per person)
1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt to taste
UNDERSTANDING YOUR INGREDIENTS:
Understanding your ingredients will not only allow you know how to cook them, or with them properly, it will also let you know what to substitute it for, if one of mine does not suit your taste preferences. I have picked out certain ingredients, which when explained, should give you enough information as to their use, benefit and potential flavour contribution in this recipe.
Kilishi: Traditionally, either Pancetta (Pork Belly) or Guancile (Pork Cheek) is used for carbonara. A dried out meat like kilishi would get you a response in Rome, Italy, that you normally would not hear on a good day, something in the lines of "YOU PANCETTA-PAGAN BASTARD!". But Kilishi has a depth of flavour that when extracted right, gives as much of a kick as cured meats like pancetta does. Because kilishi is already dried out and stripped of all fat and water, what we want to do is avoid 'frying' it in hot oil, it will burn quickly, I mean really, really quick. If using cured meats, note that they still have fats and will release fats in the oil during the frying process, hence you will end up with more oil than what you started with, so remember to drain some.
Eggs & yolk: The extra yolk is just for that creaminess in your carbonara. but eggs in general are for the addition of viscocity (from the combination of egg whites and starch from pasta), while egg yolks being a fat, brings in richness (creaminess), and flavour, and also acts as an emulsifier, combining the oil and sauce to give a nice creamy sauce. For vegans and anyone looking to substitute this ingredient, you want a great emulsifier rich in flavour like mustard, or best option in my opinion is to go for a flavoursome roux using a rich vegan butter.
Blue Cheese: This is also a great ingredient to add flavour and creaminess to a dish. blue cheese is 'hella strong, so it might be too much for your taste, but practically any cheese would do the same thing, the only difference in cheese choice, is flavour, blue cheese is 'mah boo', I love the flavour, but with any cheese choice, you want to make sure, it does not completely overpower the dish. Traditionally, in Italy, pecorino Romano is used, but seeing as I used blue cheese which is shit loads stronger, I had to make sure I used enough quantity to add flavour but not overpower, easiest way to do this is to add a little and more as you taste during the coating stage.
Olive oil: Olive oil is not a high heat cooking oil, and somewhere below, as you read this recipe, you will find out why. olive oil is more enjoyable as a finishing oil; drizzling on rather than cooking with. This recipe does not involve high heat which is why olive oil works best here. So be careful not to overheat your oil.
In a pot, add water and salt it until it is as salty as the sea, then bring to a rolling boil. Add enough water for your pasta to cook in, I use a litre of water for every 100g of pasta, and for every 1 litre of water, I add 1 and a half tbsp of salt, or until i taste the boiling water and it is salty. To be honest, I do not keep track when I cook pasta, I just think "lots of water, lots of salt"
Drop your pasta in and let it start to cook. make sure your water is hot or/and at a rolling boil before dropping pasta in.
While pasta is cooking, crack 2 eggs in a bowl, and add an extra egg yolk, put in your grated cheese and black pepper. DO NOT add salt yet, your cheese adds saltiness and so salting at this point may lead to oversalting. whisk this with a, yes, you guessed it, a whisk! keep in mind that it will not be smooth, but look grainy, ad that is just fine, the egg is not hot enough to melt the cheese, hence the grainy look.
In a pan, add your olive oil, and heat it up for just a minute on medium heat, maybe even less, you want your oil hot, but just hot enough for you to still be able to dip a finger in, once you reach that point, turn off heat, and drop in your square cut kilishi, if it starts to fry somewhat vigorously, then your oil is too hot, lift pan and swirl oil around to cool it, or simply take out kilishi and add maybe 30 seconds later. Remember earlier, this is why we chose olive oil, because we don't use it on high heat, and making it warm this way and gently frying the kilishi in it, allows the flavour of the kilishi to infuse into the oil without over-drying or burning the kilishi.
When your pasta is al dente, drain water and put pasta into oil with kilishi and coat evenly, if you can touch your pasta with your hand without burning yourself, it is hot enough to cook eggs and melt the cheese in the eggs and cheese mix.
Add eggs and cheese mix, and coat pasta, keep swirling and flipping until pasta is evenly coated, taste while still hot, and if it needs salt, then add salt sparingly until desired flavour is riched.
HOW TO TROUBLESHOOT:
If your eggs start to look grainy and not creamy when mixing with pasta, then your pasta in kilishi oil is too hot and is cooking your eggs. eggs start to cook at 55ºc.
Your kilishi will foam slightly immediately when dropped in oil, if it continues to foam, and fry vigorously, then your oil is too hot.
The different weights for pasta, for dried and fresh, is because when dried pasta is boiled, water is added back in, so it will expand as it absorbs water back into it, this is a reason why people seem to make more pastas than intended. keep this rule in mind, '100g of dried pasta will become 242g after cooking'.
Hope you enjoy your pasta, and have taken away a way to effectively create your own carbonara recipe using a cured meat, oil and cheese of your choice.
Thank you for reading. Please leave comments below.