Wednesday, 13 April 2011

S.P.Q.R.

Everyone knows that Rome is one of the most beautiful cities all over the world. That its streets are full of history and art. That the Roman empire was huge and ancient Romans were expanding all over Europe and Northern Africa. Very often when traveling it happens to see ancient Roman ruins such as aqueducts, walls, roads. And Britain as well is full of them: from the Hadrian's wall  of York till the southern city of Bath with its temples and thermal pools.
What is not well known instead is Roman cuisine. What English people knows is probably just the Carbonara, and after attentively reading the most visited recipes online I can say for sure, that there is no one right!
I guess that the fact that I was born and lived in Rome for 32 years gives me a little bit of authority in talking about some Romans traditional recipes. Also, my father does the best Spaghetti alla Carbonara ever, and it has always been my favourite pasta.
Coming to the real Carbonara, this is one of the simplest recipe you could deal with. The key factors are the right ingredients and perfect timing! There's no more than 6 ingredients:
Eggs
Guanciale (difficult to find here in London, but not impossible, a lot of delicatessen have it.Last time I bought it in Borough Market)
Pecorino (possibly the Roman type, in this case you can even find it in Sainsbury)
Pasta, Olive oil & Black Pepper

Just a note before starting, the cream is not missing by mistake. There is no cream in this recipe....NO CREAM!!
Now, cook the pasta al dente, and while doing this make cubes of your guanciale (usually around one slice per person) and fry it for few minutes. Then whisk the eggs (normally you should alternate one whole egg and one only yolk per person) adding abundant black pepper. When pasta is cooked, drain it well. Then return it over the eggs, pour the bacon and quickly mix. Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate and wait for a couple of minutes. The heat is going to cook the eggs. So now you only have to sprinkle your pecorino and some more pepper if needed. Just in case it got too dry you can add a tablespoon of the pasta cooking water.
Time to eat now!!

Ops...one last thing: the best wine match is going to be a white (as tannins don't work well with eggs) fresh,but not too acidic and with a medium body. Possibly a wine from the area like a Frascati Superiore (try Poggio le Volpi, Pallavicini or Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi).
Enjoy it!

PS: Picture is courtesy of friend and wine mentor Sor Alessio G.!