There was a day when a batch of Cranberry & White Chocolate cookies led me to confess my long held Bill Granger crush. I am sad to report but the Bill crush is beginning to ebb. Marco Pierre White’s Spaghetti Carbonara has much to do with it.
In 2011 MasterChef Australia first introduced British chef Marco Pierre White as a guest judge. Marco Pierre White’s career as the youngest and also the first British Chef to win 3 Michelin Stars needed no such introduction. Classically trained by brothers Albert and Michael Roux, further training received under Pierre Kofman and having worked in the kitchen of Raymond Blanc, Marco Pierre White is pretty much the equivalent of Chef Royalty. His earned a reputation in his younger days as a kind of rock star / dissident chef who gave back his Michelin stars in order to re-invent himself. It is a reputation he has never been able to fully escape.
In 2013 he returned to our screens as the principle judge in MasterChef Australia the professionals and I was surely not alone in swooning over that voice. So smooth and gentle, his words old worldly and perfectly enunciated, soft tempered as to be almost rhythmic. It is hard to believe that this is the same man who trained Gordon Ramsey and Curtis Stone. (Apparently he no longer talks to Ramsey, but that is a story for a different time.)
In 2014 we saw him join the set of the South African MasterChef and do a cook along with two of the contestants. I would have given anything to be in that kitchen. That same year but one which we are only seeing on our screens now came another week long appearance in the 2014 Australian MasterChef season. Marco Pierre White week ranks as my absolute favourite of the season so far – way above that of Heston Blummental.
It was during this week that Marco Pierre White gave a masterclass and paid homage to his Italian heritage (Marco’s mother was Italian) with this Spaghetti Carbonara. One of the tips he gave for this recipe related to the plating up of the pasta. Marco noted how when everything is dished up in a pile, with one ingredient after another, usually ending with the cheese on top, it interferes with how you experience that dish. Basically, he said, once you have finished the cheese on the top of a pasta dish, the rest of the dish dulled a little by comparison. To this end, Marco plates the spaghetti, pancetta and cheese in layers on the plate. The result? Layers of cheese, spaghetti and pancetta in every mouthful.
Of course I had to try it. And obviously, he was absolutely right. This pasta dish is about the easiest thing you could ever make. I am not embarrassed to say that it is fast becoming my load shedding go to meal as I can fry the pancetta off in the pan and everything else is done over the gas.
I have given the recipe just as it is found on the Australian Tenplay MasterChef website. It really is perfect as is without needing any changes, with one exception. I do not cook a full 500 g packet of spaghetti for the four of us. Simply cook the amount you would usually, keeping all the other ingredients exactly the same. Do not be shy with the cheese.
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- 8 slices pancetta
- 500 g packet spaghetti
- 8 egg yolks
- 125 ml (½ C) cream
- grated parmesan cheese, for serving
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Lay the pancetta on a baking tray and bake in an oven preheated to 180˚C for 15 minutes or until crispy.
- Remove from oven, transfer to a board and cut into 2 cm pieces. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat, using a deep frying pan as a lid.
- Add spaghetti and cook until al dente or to your liking.
- While the pasta is cooking, whisk egg yolks and cream together with a fork.
- Drain cooked pasta and add to the warmed fry pan and set over medium heat. Add egg/cream mixture and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle serving plates with grated parmesan cheese and cooked pancetta.
- Add some cooked spaghetti.
- Complete layering until all the pasta and pancetta have been used.
- Season to taste.