I’ve never been one for breakfast or brunch. Especially the traditional kind. And not because I’m one of those people who don’t like to eat first thing in the morning… I do! But cereal, yoghurt, fresh fruit, eggs, bread, etc, etc just aren’t my cup of tea. What I do love to eat in the morning are things that most other people (at least here in Australia) don’t associate with breakfast: fried rice for example. Roti with dhal. Curry even! I get super excited when in Bali and order mie goreng (stir fried noodles) with an omelette on top every morning because it’s normal there.
My latest brunch obsession which happily my husband is on board with is of the Italian kind – carbonara. It has all the trappings of a good anglo brekkie – eggs, bacon, carbs… just delivered in a somewhat different format. Bacon & egg pasta! Perfect for a cool, wet and potentially slightly hung over Sunday morning pick-me-up.
It’s pretty simple really. In fact the ‘real’ deal (the way the Italians have it) has only four ingredients : guanciale (pancetta or bacon will do), spaghetti, cheese (pecorino or parmesan) and eggs plus the prerequisite olive oil & seasoning. I spruce mine up a bit and add chillies, finely chopped onion & garlic, perhaps occasionally a small splash of truffle oil but never ever EVER do I add milk or cream. This recipe is all about the heroes: eggs, the bacon and pasta.
First put enough water on to boil for the pasta. Next, take a packet of bacon (or some pancetta or guanciale if you have it) and slice into fine strips. Add into a fry pan with olive oil and put on a high heat. You want to really brown and crisp up the bacon. The next three ingredients are an optional – I think they spice it up a bit! While the bacon is sizzling away, finely chop a small brown onion, two cloves of garlic and 2-3 birds eye chillies (depending on how spicy you want it to be). Throw them into the pan with the bacon, toss through and keep cooking until the onion is nice and caramelised. If done properly, it adds a sweetness to the dish that works beautifully with the egg and bacon. By now, the water should be boiling. Add enough spaghetti for two people and then enough for one more (this will give you both a small second helping!) into the water and follow the cooking instructions on the packet. Remember that this dish is about the pasta so make sure it’s good quality and you cook it al dente. While never the same as the real deal, I use this gluten-free brand that I think is as close as it comes! The pasta is on, the bacon & onion are cooking, now grab two eggs and mix them up in a bowl. Add a big handful of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino into the egg mixture, mix some more and season with pepper and salt. When the pasta is done, drain it, add the bacon, onion, garlic and chilli and mix through carefully (try not to break the pasta). Your pot should be off the heat at this stage. Now pour in the egg & parmesan mixture and mix through thoroughly. You want the egg to coat each strange of pasta – there shouldn’t be lots of excess sitting in the bottom of the pot. If you follow the last few steps quickly enough, the pasta should have enough heat in it to cook the egg mixture through. Try to avoid turning the heat of the stove back on as it will scramble the eggs, leaving you with little chunks of egg throughout your pasta. Once carefully combined, serve with more parmesan on top and perhaps some finely chopped fresh parsley.