Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Farfalle Carbonara Revisited

I have been informed that my eldest daughter's school is attempting to assemble and publish a family cookbook as a fundraising item. It goes without saying that I jumped at the opportunity to contribute. The instructions were to document recipes for dishes that your children like to eat, and perhaps write an accompanying anecdote along with the recipe. I hit a bit of a creative block right out of the gate. Frankly, my youngest daughter is going through a stage were she generally hates all food except for yogurt, french fries and toast. Perhaps that's exaggerating matters, my youngest will certainly eat her bacon butterflies. She's not fond of the peas in the recipe and will attempt to eat around them; however, by lucky accident I have observed that she generally ingests a lot them quite inadvertently. 

So here's my first attempt at writing a recipe that involves actual measurements and instructions. It may not be completely accepted in North America yet, but measurement by weight and in metric is the rule, not the exception in Europe - so I have employed this approach. These kinds of measurements are more accurate and with the help of a $30 electronic scale, recipes are a cinch to follow. So, here goes - a proper recipe with proper instructions - be gentle; it's my first.

Farfalle Carbonara (alternatively known as Bacon Butterflies)

Our girls are always keen to eat their ‘butterflies with bacon’.  Fresh mint or basil makes for an excellent accompaniment; however, given young children’s general suspicion of things that are green and leafy, the herbage should be left to the side. Grownups can dress their own plate. Also note, steamed broccoli looks very pretty perched atop the pasta and knocks it out of the park for nutritional value (if you can get your three-year-old to choke it down). Bonus advantage – the sauce can be prepared in the time it takes to boil the pasta!
300g of Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
3-4 litres of water
6 slices of good quality streaky bacon
200g of frozen peas
10 ml of 18% cream
10 g unsalted butter
100g of grated parmesan cheese
3 egg yolks
10 ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 or 2 generous pinches of salt

First, get your pasta going. If in doubt, follow the directions on the package of farfalle pasta. This recipe serves four so you’re generally looking for about 300g of dry pasta to about 4 litres of well-salted boiling water. Taste your water – it should taste like the sea. Once you get your pasta going, get six strips of bacon frizzling in a pan on a medium heat. Cook the bacon until crispy, about five to six minutes on each side. Once the bacon is done, set it aside to drain on a paper towel. At the point that your pasta is about 75% cooked (in and around nine minutes), you will need to 'steal' some of the pasta water.  Using a mug or measuring cup, carefully remove 250ml of starchy pasta water from the pot and put that aside. Now get your peas into the boiling water along with the pasta. You want the peas to cook for about two or three minutes. While the peas are cooking, get three egg yolks into a bowl and beat them with the cream and about one-quarter of the parmesan cheese, then put it aside. Chop the bacon strips up into small pieces. We’re almost ready to assemble everything – remember, once the pasta is out of the water, it will rapidly start to cool – so you need to act fast. Strain the pasta and peas and get them into a large serving bowl. Add the bacon and the olive oil and toss so that it doesn’t get too sticky. Then pour in about 50 ml of the starchy pasta water and then fold in the egg yolk mixture and butter. If you feel slightly anxious about using raw eggs, fret not, for the yolks will cook in the residual heat of the pasta. Next, pour in the rest of the cheese and toss everything together. If it seems too dry, keep adding starchy pasta water until you’re happy with the consistency (if it gets too watery, feel free to tip in another generous glug of cream or more grated cheese). Once satisifed, bring the entire steaming bowl of pasta to the table and serve family-style with additional parmesan and herbs on the side. A bit of crusty bread would not be unwelcome.


  1. That looks yummy, but you know that whomever is compiling these recipes will probably convert your measurements to "real" measurements right?

  2. The shots are looking fantastic!! Really good work! If only I could find the time!