Heston Blumenthal puts a trademark twist on the classic carbonara using a humble everyday veg.
One thing that always interests us here at insearchofheston.com is the difference in Heston’s recipes between the old and the new, and how some of the Fat Duck chef’s recipes have evolved over the years.
One of our favourite go-tos for easy Heston gastronomy is his Carbonara recipe, a relatively simple dish with a “sauce” made from egg yolks and parmesan cheese. That Carbonara dish dates back to 2002, and Heston’s first home recipe book, Family Food. Spin on a few years (2010, to be precise) and we’ve got the almost identical Heston recipe for Pea and Pancetta Spaghetti. It’s essentially the same dish, but leaving out the parsley, swapping green chilli for red and adding a whole load of frozen peas.
It’s still a very cheap and easy dish to make (and with the addition of extra veg a bit healthier, too), but the inclusion of those peas seems to contradict a very sage bit of advice from the original 2002 Family Food recipe, specifically this:
We’ve made Heston’s Pea and Pancetta Spaghetti recipe and suffered exactly the problem Heston anticipated in Family Food: sad, lonely peas left on the plate. Our solution? Replace that awkward spaghetti with retro, school-days chonchiglie pasta shells, and use smaller, sweeter petit pois. The pasta should prove much more effective at holding onto the peas, and make this dish as easy to eat as it is to make.
Here’s the Waitrose ad with Heston showing you how to make his Pea and Pancetta Spaghetti recipe:
Recipes: Heston’s Pea and Pancetta Spaghetti recipe
Special Equipment: None
Special Ingredients: None
Time: 20 – 30 minutes
Step 1: Pasta
As ever Heston recommends a ratio of 1 litre of water and 10g of salt for every 100g of pasta. You can weigh everything on the scales if you want to be super-accurate.
If you’re quick and organised you can take care of everything else while the pasta is on the boil.
Step 2: Onions, Chilli, Garlic
Quick, organised and have nifty knife-skills. We struggle with all 3 of those, so the stuff you see here was prepared before the pasta went on.
On a medium heat with a good slug of olive oil these don’t need much attention at all. Which means you can turn your energies to…
Step 3: The Sauce
You need 3 yolks for a two-person serving. Or 4 if you bought those cheap but miserably tiny “mixed sized” eggs like we did. Oh, and 50g of parmesan which takes much longer to grate than you might expect.
Whisked together this forms more of a rough paste than an actual sauce. That changes to a significantly smoother mixture once you add a ladle full of the pasta water.
Our advice is to be sure to let that water cool before adding it, or you’ll scramble the egg yolks.
Step 4: Pancetta and Peas
Half way through cooking add the pancetta (we’re using streaky bacon, which is a perfectly acceptable substitute).
About a minute before the pasta is ready add your frozen peas. Yes, while still frozen.
The heat of the pan will defrost them. You can leave the mixture off the heat while you attend to your pasta.
Step 5: Mix It All Up
Add the sauce to the piping hot pasta. The fearful will be pleased ot hear that the heat of the pasta will cook the yolks just enough. But, if you’re still a bit apprehensive, by all means return the pan to a very low hob and stir constantly.
Stir through the onion, pea and pancetta mixture then season with black pepper (with all that cheese and bacon you shouldn’t need any salt).
Plate up and grate over even more parmesan. Congratulations, you’ve just made Heston’s Pea and Pancetta Pasta recipe.
Much like the spaghetti carbonara recipe that form its foundations, Heston’s Pea and Pancetta Pasta recipe is a solidly delicious meal.
Those peas and red chillies add a sweet and earthy quality that make this dish a pleasingly earthy alternative. The sauce was slightly too thin for us, but otherwise this could not be improved.
Granted, they won’t win any awards for beauty, but the chonchiglie pasta shells are perfect for catching and holding onto the peas. Check it out:
If you’re looking for a fun, easy, delicious recipe that’s a little bit different and isn’t going to break the bank we’d highly recommend you try Heston’s Pea and Pancetta Pasta recipe.
Pretty much flawless, but if we made this again we’d reduce the amount of water for the pasta sauce, which we found to a bit too thin. Otherwise, we don’t think this recipe can be beaten.