Cook the Book: Chorizo Carbonara

[Photographs: Simon Wheeler]

Bacon and eggy carbonara has long been one of my "I don't know what to make for dinner" dinners. No matter how barren the fridge looks, chances are there's at least an egg or two, a chunk of some form of pork, and pasta in the pantry. And it's always satisfying in a hearty, pasta-meets-breakfast sort of way.

This Chorizo Carbonara from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Every Day combines Italian dinner with Mexican breakfast by subbing in spicy crumbled chorizo for bacon or guanciale.

While you can absolutely make this pasta using storebought chorizo, mixing up a batch of Fearnley-Whittingstall's Tupperware Chorizo is totally worth it. Ground pork mixed with smoked paprika, cayenne, and fennel seeds goes in Tupperware and is left for a few hours so the flavors can really meld. It's an awesome home approximation of chorizo, deeply spiced and full of lots of smokey fat.

Once the chorizo is mixed and rested, the carbonara comes together in just a few minutes. Chorizo is crumbled and browned and cooked pasta is added to the pan, mixed with the sausage nuggets, and dressed with beaten eggs and heavy cream. The cream, eggs, and juices from the chorizo cook in the heat from the pasta making, tightening up a bit and making a sauce that coats each strand of spaghetti with sauce that has great dairy richness and an insanely porky smokiness.

You can top it with a bit of cheese (Parmesan, cotija, or even a hard Spanish cheese) but all you really need is a few grinds of black pepper.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of River Cottage Every Day to give away this week.

Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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Cook the Book: Chorizo Carbonara

About This Recipe

Yield:2
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:At least 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta
  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1 cup Tupperware Mexican Chorizo (recipe follows), crumbled (or Spanish chorizo, diced quite small)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Tupperware Mexican Chorizo:
  • 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A little canola or olive oil for frying

Procedures

  1. 1

    To make the Tupperware Mexican Chorizo: Put all the ingredients except the oil into a bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands, squishing the mix through your fingers to distribute the seasonings evenly.

  2. 2

    Cover the mixture and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours before using; this will allow the flavors time to develop. It will keep for about 1 week.

  3. 3

    To make the Chorizo Carbonara: Add the pasta to a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water and cook until al dente.

  4. 4

    Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the chorizo and fry briskly for about 10 minutes, until crisp and cooked through. If you’re using the soft Tupperware chorizo, you can start with a bit of a lump and break it up with a spatula as it fries, so it forms lots of succulent little nuggets and crumbs, thereby maximizing the surface area available for crisping.

  5. 5

    Beat the egg yolks and cream together and season lightly (since the chorizo is already highly seasoned).

  6. 6

    When the pasta is done, drain thoroughly and immediately return it to the hot pan. Tip in the crisp chorizo, followed by the egg mixture. Use 2 forks to mix the eggy cream into the hot pasta. It will cook in the heat of the pasta, coating each strand in a light, creamy sauce. Serve right away, with a final grinding of black pepper on top.

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