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Leeky lumaconi carbonara

March 11, 2010

Leeky lumaconi pasta carbonaraCarbonara, to me, is the original fast food. There is something special about coming home and realising all that is left in the fridge is some bacon and some eggs, because I know exactly what I’ll be having in only 15 minutes and I love it.

The funny thing about this Italian classic is that you always want to tinker with it and nine times out of ten, it simply doesn’t work. The problem is that you lose the essence of the dish. I have attempted many, many different versions and, it’s true, I do end up with a lovely meal – but it’s just not a carbonara. This change is both simple and sensitive, and leeks really suit that comforting cheese sauce.

Here’s another one the purists will hate; I’m using the wrong type of pasta! These giant macaroni-style, ridged shapes are just so good at taking on a thick sauce like this, that I find lumaconi work really well.

There is something that has evaded me with this dish; how the devil does one get the lovely bacon (and leek) bits right the way through? I always seem to end up with a big pile of them at the bottom of the pan. Suggestions are most welcome!

Serves 3 or 4 (depending how hungry I am)


  • 2 Leeks – cut in half long-ways then sliced
  • ½ tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Parsley
  • 1 Garlic Clove, finely slices
  • 2 Eggs, yolks only
  • 1 Egg
  • Double cream
  • 6 Rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • A Pile of parmesan or strong, mature cheddar (eg Cornish Cruncher)
  • Lumaconi

Get cooking

Start by slicing the bacon. Add some olive oil to a big frying pan or wok over a high heat and fry the bacon. Once it’s starting to take on colour, add the leeks, thyme and garlic. Keep them moving, think stir fry, until they start softening and bacon is nicely browned.

Get the pasta in some salted boiling water – turns out, omitting oil here is much better for the texture.

Whisk together the egg and egg yolks. Add enough cream to make up about 50% of the combined yolk volume –  I find this is usually between 1 and 3 tablespoons. Stir in the cheese; I like a very big handful but you can adjust this depending on how strong the cheese is.

Now you have to be quick. Drain the pasta and quickly glug a bit of a peppery extra virgin olive oil and stir it through. Now dump all the pasta into the pan with the bacon and leeks, and finally add the egg mixture. Stir this through, the heat left in the pan and the pasta should thicken the sauce. You want to get it quite thick – but I often find this is a personal preference. It’s at this point that I add the parsley and check for seasoning as smoked bacon can be quite salty. Get it on some plates, sprinkle a little parmesan over the top and tuck in!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2010 12:10 am

    Mmmm this looks perfect for the rainy night we’re having here. Unfortunately, I am getting myself into a complicated mess with a complicated risotto recipe instead! Noted for future use!

  2. March 12, 2010 6:40 am

    Now that the weather is starting to cool down, this will go down well with a nice drop of red. I’ve never tried mature cheddar instead of parmesan; that’s quite a Brit variation! :)

  3. March 12, 2010 11:45 am

    MMMM I love a good carbonara! It tends to be something that I make when haven’t planned to make anything at all, and just create something from what we have in the cupboards – like you say it’s so fast to cook!

  4. March 15, 2010 1:34 pm

    This looks great. I forgot how good carbonara can be. Yum Yum.

  5. March 17, 2010 5:42 pm

    Thank goodness I’m no purist – love the giant ridged pasta, the better to get the most sauce in one bite! If you ever find the secret to evenly dispersing the bacon throughout, please share. 8-)

    • March 19, 2010 4:30 pm

      They really are great for this sort of sauce! In fact, they are one of my fav shapes for that very reason… you’ll see in the coming weeks that I am all about the sauce :)

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