When 6/10 magazine started following us on Twitter I cheered them and, as we usually like to do at the BDK, I tempted them with our latest menu. This is how we started talking over the Net with Laura, the editor and realising that, as her roots track back to the beautiful island of Sicily, she was craving for some authentic Italian food to try out. Exchanging notes and dreamful visions over the amazing Sicilian cuisine, which we featured in one of our Regional supperclub nights, we decided to catch up in the sooner future talk through food, possibly around food.
This is when, a few minutes after, I received her email asking me to cook something/ write a recipe for her newly born magazine (check it out, it looks great!) in the wider contest of the BACON WEEK which happens to be exactly this week (March 18th-24th).
I was a bit skeptical about it: no much bacon in Italian cuisine unfortunately. Actually NO bacon at all in our cuisine! But eventually a legend came to my mind…
One of the myths behind the origins of Carbonara sauce was started just after the Allied army entered the city, putting an end to WWII for Italy. But Roman chefs struggled to please the American soldiers, who craved a taste of home. As many of them couldn’t find their bacon and scrambled eggs in any bar or trattoria, the locals decided to meet the demand and tailor an ad-hoc recipe based on their starred-and-striped likings. They did it with the only ingredients they could get their hands on and that would fit the American bill: eggs and pancetta or guanciale (cured pork’s cheek). This is how, according to one of the several versions, the Romans came up with Carbonara pasta.
As it is custom at the BackDoor Kitchen, we like to go back in time and come back with something new! And this time we brought back to mid 20th century Rome such thing called BACON!
Ingredients (serves 2):
80g broad beans
150g British smoked bacon lardons
200g fresh Tagliatelle pasta (or rigatoni – whichever floats your pasta boat)
25g Pecorino Romano cheese
25g Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 whole medium eggs
1 red onion
20ml white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Salt to taste
Let’s cook this!
Slice the onion very finely. Place the sliced onion and sugar in a pan on high heat and wait for the onions to release their water and natural sugars. Toss the onions until they get softer, after around 5 minutes.
Just before they start sticking to the pan add in the vinegar and lower the flame. Once they’re caramelised – when the onions get a strong purplish colour, their texture is nice and tender and all the liquids look syrupy and coat the onion slices – put the them aside.
The broad beans
While the onion is cooking, fill up a small pot with water and bring it to the boil. Add the broad beans and a pinch of salt. Leave it cooking for about 3 minutes or until tender but not mashy.Take them out of the water, drain and put aside for later.
In a bowl beat the eggs with a fork, then add Pecorino, Parmesan and ground black pepper. Mix well and put aside.
Pre-heat a pan and, when hot, put in the bacon lardons as they are with nothing else. In a few minutes they’ll start crisping up and release the juices from the fat. If your bacon is a bit shy and there is not much release just add a couple of tea spoons of Extra virgin olive oil and it’ll do the trick as well as!
Lower the flame and add the broad beans so they absorb extra flavour from the lardons. Toss for a few minutes and allow the broad beans to get slightly toasted. Taste and add more salt if needed.
In the meantime, bring some water to a boil in another pot, add coarse salt and put in the pasta. We use our home-made tagliatelle but you can use any kind of fresh or dried pasta – rigatoni go really well with this dish. Just make sure that the cooking time of the pasta matches the cooking time of the lardons and the broadbeans. For instance, if the pasta takes 5 minutes to cook, don’t start cooking the lardons 15 minutes before boiling your pasta!
When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander and put it in the same pan where the lardons and the broadbeans are. Move the pan away from the fire (this is key!) and add the egg and cheese mix, the onions and stir up quickly so that the mix will be absorbed by the pasta. If you don’t move the pan from the fire you will have crumbles of cheese and eggs which will tend to separate rather than stick to your pasta. Serve it with some Pecorino cheese and ground black pepper on top.
So here we are, the perfect pasta dish to kick off the spring. And broad beans will be in season very soon! You can also have your vegeterian version just by taking off the bacon and adding a bit of Extra Virgin olive oil to gently fry your broadbens before putting all the ingredients together.
Americans are more than welcome.
Watch this space for more recipes…
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