From Heston’s Perfect spaghetti Bolognese to his much simpler spaghetti carbonara recipe.
heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food
The other week I cooked Heston’s Spaghetti Bolognese recipe ( a solid 12 hours start to finish), the first step on my quest to cook all 16 of Heston’s Perfection recipes.

 

Pasta has just been revealed as the world’s most popular food, but I bet that wouldn’t be the case if every spaghetti dish took a full day to make. The Heston spaghetti carbonara recipe takes about 30 minutes.

 

Quick, simple and most of the ingredients can be found lying around the  kitchen. Perfect for a weeknight. Your move, Jamie.

 

SUMMARY

 

Recipe: Can be found here on the Guardian website or here in the Times archives.. More detailed instructions in Heston’s recipe book Family Food.

 

Special Equipment: None

Special Ingredients: None

 

Time: About 30 minutes

Cost:  About £5. Slightly more if you use decent bacon.

Serves: 4 – 6 (depending on appetite)

Difficulty: Fairly Easy

STEP 1: The Onions and Garlic

heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

A good test of your knife skills. I had to resist the temptation to whack the heat up and speed the cooking; they’re supposed to take 15 minutes.
heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

Hestonthusiasts will be shocked that there’s no star anise in with the onions. Since this is kind of a 30 minute meal I copied Jamie and used a crusher for the garlic.

 

 

STEP 2: The Spaghetti

heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food
Heston’s tip: 10g of salt and 1 litre of water for every 100g of pasta. Naturally there’s a sciencey reason for this, basically it stops your pasta being starchy. See how cloudy the cooking water is? Starch.
heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

Once it’s ready Heston says lift the pasta out of the water (with tongs I guess) to prevent it reabsorbing the starch. I’m a bit cack-handed at this, so I tend to pour the majority of the water away, then lift. Means less spaghetti clogging up the washing-up bowl.

 

Make sure the sauce is ready before your pasta is finished.

 

 

STEP 3: The “Sauce”

heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

“Sauce” seems a generous way to describe the paste that you get from whisking a lot of grated parmesan together with a few egg yolks.
heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

Once you add a ladle of the starchy (and salty) pasta water it will make more sense.

Warning: don’t add the pasta water straight from the pan, it’ll scramble the egg yols and ruin your sauce. I measure the pasta salt in a remekin, then dip it in the cooking water, set it to one side to cool, then pour it in from a height.

Quick tip: make sure your bowl is large enough to slop all the cooked spaghetti around in and get a nice thick coating of the sauce.
Have this sauce ready before your pasta is done.

 

Step 4: Bacon and chilli

heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

The final ingredients don’t need long. If you finish this step early take it off the heat and it’ll stay warm in the pan.

I should confess to using cheap supermarket bacon here. It’s not the smartest move when you’re hoping to take photos you can show off with on the internet.

If you’ve been paying attention to Jay Rayner you know they bulk out cheap bacon with water and stabilisers. That water can leak out near th end of cooking filling your pan with slurry.

If standard bacon is all you have access to you might have to sieve this mixture before stirring it through to remove some of that water. You will lose flavour but preserve the texture of the dish.

 

STEP 5: Finishing the dish
heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

I was a little worried by the raw-egg sauce. But the pasta, hot  from the pan, will cook those yolks through. No need to fret.

Warning: It’s easy to add too much water and end up with a runny sauce that slips off th spaghetti. If this happens put the lot back in the pan over the lowest possible heat until it thickens up. You want a nice gooey coating on each spaghetti strand.

 

I always envy those picture-perfect pasta dishes evenly mixed ingredients. Mine usually end up with the onions clumped at the bottom and sides. Using a pair of tongs helped me. A bit.

 

VERDICT

heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

Never mind the Bolognese, this recipe is perfection in its own right. Filling yet light, unctuous and creamy without being heavy and with strong, balanced flavours. Thanks to the, parmesan salty pasta water and kick from the chilli you don’t even need to season it.

 

Easily scalable from a six-person supper down to a gastronomic treat for one. You could even make it healthier by using leaner cuts of bacon and adding more veg.

 

Heston says he prefers the dish without mushrooms. I’m nostalgic (at uni I lived off microwave versions of this) and stubborn so I put some in mine. he’s right, they really don’t work and the texture is all wrong.
heston blumenthal spaghetti carbonara pasta recipe book family food

On the subject of veg, the Times article finishes with the following quote from Blumenthal:

“I love to add peas to this dish; broccoli is also be a great extra. If you do use peas, it might be an idea to change the pasta, as the spaghetti won’t hold them”

 

…sound advice. Whichmakes the near-identical Pea and Ham Spaghetti recipe for Waitrose kinda baffling. You’ll notice nobody tries to get some on a fork in the Waitrose TV ad:

 

Quick, simple, cheap and delicious, I’ve found myself cooking this pretty often since my first attempt (there’s a lot of posh spaghetti to get through). Might use conchiglie if I add peas though.

 

And as for all the leftover egg whites? They freeze pretty well, or you could be extra efficient and make a fantastic dessert like Heston’s chocolate fondant recipe with them.

 

 

Further reading:

 

So Long & Thanks for all the fush & chups: Agrees this recipe is a winner

 

Peach Jam: A great UK blog from a fellow foodie agrees this is a great weeknight dish.

 

Gareth Jones Food: Takes the essence of this dish to the next level with some choice rare ingredients.

 

Sorted: Makes more of a meal of it, but does use cream and whole eggs.

 

Not Delia: Gives Sorted’s version above a good go.