I’ve been on a truffle tour lately. It’s not usually an ingredient that I use in my everyday cooking since it is very fancy with a fancy price tag, but I was fortunate enough to be gifted some truffle salt and even a fresh black truffle recently. So, when life hands you lemons, make delicious lemon curd, right? With this recipe, you can easily replace truffle salt with regular salt and forego the truffle altogether. Without the truffle, this recipe is just one of classic and delicious carbonara. With the truffle, there is an added earthy richness that complements the cheesy creaminess of carbonara.
I’m both fascinated and peeved by the elusiveness of truffles, both in the difficulty of locating them as well as the bashful nature of their flavor. Wild boars are employed to scavenge expansive forests for wild truffles. Once you have your truffle in hand, you must handle it very gingerly because its flavors are so delicate. Pairing with flavors that are too strong or cooking the truffle will mask its subtle flavors. To be honest, I had to do an extensive google search on how to cook with truffle and how to wash/clean and store truffle before this post.
Making a classic carbonara is comprised of simple ingredients, but what makes or breaks a carbonara sauce is the precision in technique that is required to make sure that the end product is a rich and velvety sauce, rather than curdled egg. The main tips I have for carbonara are:
1. Use egg yolks only, not whites. Egg whites will increase the likelihood of the sauce curdling
2. Use real Parmigianno-Regiano cheese (please, no Kraft); preferably grate your own cheese, but pre-grated will work as long as it is real cheese
3. Use heavy cream, not half-and-half or low fat substitutes.
Some people prefer to cook carbonara with the heat turned off for fear of curdling the egg in the sauce. I’m a bit paranoid when it comes to eating raw egg because of reports of Salmonella. So I prefer to take the halfway point by borrowing from the same technique that is used to cook egg-based custards: low heat with lots of constant mixing.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
1 package dried penne
1 package smoked bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic
¼ diced onion
1 tsp truffle salt
4 egg yolks
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 bunch chopped parsley
optional: ½ small black truffle, grated
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
While water is boiling, sauté bacon. Heat skillet on medium high and place bacon in the pan. When the bacon begins to crisp up, add onion and garlic. Saute for another 2-3 minutes, then set aside.
Mix together egg yolks and cream until smooth. Set aside.
Boil pasta according to package directions (approximately 7-10 minutes), then drain and add into bacon and onion mixture. Add in egg mixture and cheese to pasta. Turn heat on medium low and stir constantly. Add a splash of pasta water to adjust consistency of the pasta sauce.
When pasta sauce begins to thicken, turn heat off and remove pan from heat. Cooking further will lead the sauce to curdle.
Shave truffle into the pasta and toss thoroughly.
Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.