Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

In my last post I mentioned high cholesterol and now I’m making pasta carbonara with egg yolks and cheese? Yeah yeah yeah, blame Rachael Ray. The August issue of her magazine has several recipes featuring corn, which is in season locally right now. This recipe is on the page opposite her Sea Scallops with Creamed Corn and Tarragon, one of the most delicious dinners I’ve made recently, so I had to try this one.

I’m a sucker for a good carbonara, but I hardly ever have it, maybe once a year. I still have memories of the delicious spaghetti carbonara at George’s in Brockton, Massachusetts, the first restaurant I ever worked in.

Since I used cherry peppers for this recipe, which are not that hot, I added crushed red pepper flakes as well. Rachael’s original recipe called for cherry peppers or Fresno peppers. Fresno peppers are much hotter than cherry peppers, heck, they’re hotter than jalapeno peppers. I couldn’t find any Fresno, but I love the taste and color of cherry peppers so I used those instead and increased the heat with pepper flakes.

If you like saucy creamy pastas and want to go way overboard on the fat, you could add cream at the end, just before adding the cheese. Some Italians will tell you that a true carbonara doesn’t have cream and others will argue that their mother added cream so that’s the way it’s done. I stay out of heated Italian cooking arguments. Do what you like.

Once again, the photographer was too excited about eating dinner and forgot to take pictures.

Pasta Carbonara with Corn and Cherry Peppers

You’ll need a large pot with lid, ladle, colander, large skillet and a small bowl.

  • Salt
  • 1 pound fettuccine pasta
  • Olive oil
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped, or 1/4–1/3 lb. pancetta, finely diced
  • 4 ears corn, kernels scraped from the cob, about 1-1/2 to 2 cups
  • 2 small Italian cherry chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano (or parmesan) cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chives, snipped into 1-inch pieces

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente, per package instructions. Just before draining, ladle out 1-1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Then drain in a colander.

While the pasta is working, heat a little bit of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and brown for about 3 minutes. Add the corn and lightly brown their edges, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the cherry pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic and thyme and stir for 2 minutes. Add the parsley and wine and simmer on low heat.

In a small bowl, slowly add and beat 1 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water into the egg yolks to temper them.

Add the pasta and egg yolks to the corn sauce and toss. If you want more sauce, stir in some (or all) of the reserved ½ cup of pasta water. Remove from the heat and add a handful of each cheese and black pepper. Stir vigorously to form a silky sauce, 1 to 2 minutes. If you really want to be decadent, you could add a little butter at this point. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls and top with the chives and remaining cheese.

Original recipe: Pasta Carbonara with Corn and Chiles, Every Day with Rachael Ray, August 2011

2 thoughts on “Pasta Carbonara with Corn and Cherry Peppers

  1. Karen says:

    Carbonara can be fixed so many ways. That’s part of the pleasure of cooking. Thank you for stopping by my blog, now I know about yours.

    1. deirdrereid says:

      And it’s got me thinking about other types of carbonara, oh oh. 🙂

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