Tuesday, June 23, 2009

International Day of Italian Cuisine,


Tomorrow, 17 January, is the International Day of Italian Cuisines. For one day, everyone who makes, promotes or simply loves Italian food outside of Italy is invited to celebrate the authenticity and quality of Italian cuisine.

The unprecedented celebration is led by over 130 Italian chefs and restaurateurs in 35 countries. They all belong to the Virtual Group of Italian Chefs and each of them will be cooking Pasta alla Carbonara according to the original and authentic recipe.

Why pasta alla carbonara? The Virtual Group of Italian Chefs suggests that this simple dish is one of the most commonly abused in establishments serving “counterfeit Italian cuisine” worldwide and their preparation of the “real carbonara” is an effort to raise awareness about the principles of real Italian cuisine.

Want to join the effort and honor Italian food by preparing your own pasta alla carbonara tomorrow? On their website, the Virtual Group of Italian Chefs offers the following recipe as well as tips for making an authentic dish:

Pasta alla Carbonara

Recipe serves one

60 to 80gm spaghetti freshly cooked al dente
1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
30gm pancetta or guanciale
1 or 2 eggs
25 gm freshly grated Pecorino Romano and/or aged Italian Grana Cheese. (Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano)
freshly ground black pepper

  • Mix the beaten egg with grated cheese and ground black pepper
  • Slice the pancetta 7 to 10 mm thick and cut in 2 cm rectangular bites
  • Slowly fry the pancetta in the extra virgin olive oil in a non stick pan until crispy. If the pancetta has enough fat you will not need to add oil
  • Add the spaghetti with some of the cooking water, do not fry the spaghetti but rather just let it absorb the flavour of the pancetta
  • Simmer gently until the water is almost gone
  • Remove the pan from the stove
  • Add the egg, cheese and pepper mixture to the pasta and stir quickly making sure the egg does not overcook but remains creamy. It shouldn’t pass the 70-72 C? (158-162 F?) temperature, which is the point at which its coagulation starts
  • Place in a hot pasta bowl
  • Season with ground black pepper
  • Serve immediately
  • Offer more black pepper and more grated cheese at the table

Remarks

1. You cannot make a Carbonara with pre-cooked pasta
2. Cream is not an option but a gimmick, avoid it
3. If you like, you can mix the two cheeses
4. Timing is important when you serve this dish
5. Make sure the plate or bowl is hot
6. Do not overcook the egg, otherwise you will make spaghetti with scrambled egg.

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