Today’s recommended listening: “Sultana Dreaming”, from the Final Fantasy XIV Soundtrack, by Masayoshi Soken.
It’s a warm night, I’m very well-fed, listening to Sultana Dreaming against the backdrop of rain and cars going past. Life, right now, is feeling pretty good. And, what’s more, I had an idea for today’s blog! I’m going to teach you how to make what I had for dinner, because it’s really easy, and goddamn delicious. I don’t have a recipe or anything written down for this, and I’ve never really tried explaining how to cook anything before, so we’ll just have to see how it goes. Join me, won’t you? Tonight, we make… carbonara.
These are our ingredients! Or, well, they’re what I use. Honestly you could probably add whatever you think will go well with some pasta and carbonara sauce. For me, it’s:
- Pasta, obviously. I usually like curls, or “boccoli”, but any shape is fine. Unfortunately I don’t really know how much you need! When I making it for one person I might use, like, a cup? Maybe more?? Just go with your gut on this one.
- A jar of carbonara sauce. It might not be as authentic or whatever as making it yourself, but damn is it quick and easy. You should be able to get this in any supermarket. I use one jar for myself – when I made this back home for my parents, my sister, and myself, I used two.
- Bacon! Grab a few rashers, or strips, or whatever. I used half of this packet, which was four strips iirc.
- Chorizo! Again, I used half of this packet, so two sausages – it’s both most efficient for me, and a pretty good-sized amount.
- Mushrooms! I think I used about five? Add more or less to taste.
- Behind the mushrooms – frozen onions! Cutting up a regular onion works perfectly fine too, of course. Use as much of this as you like – I tend to chuck in quite a lot.
- Cheeeeese! We don’t need a HUGE amount, just some to grate over top.
- Not appearing in this picture even though I swear I included them – breadcrumbs! Same as with cheese, although I usually pour quite a lot of these over the top.
And, of course, our implements:
- A pan, for frying. Spoilers – I didn’t actually use this red one, but it’s too cute to not include.
- A pot, for making pasta in. This one was probably too small, but it worked out.
- A stoneware dish, for putting everything in and baking! I use a square thing roughly 30cm x 30cm – only 7cm tall, so a little shallow, but it does the trick when it’s just one of me.
- A colander, for draining the pasta!
- A grater, for grating the cheese!
- A spoon, or other tool of some sort, for stirring the stuff in the frying pan!
- You probably knew that!
- Also something to stir the pasta every now and then!
Step 1: Pre-heat the oven on fan bake to around 180℃. (I.. don’t know what that is in F). This will be important for a step a bit further down the line.
Step 2: Chop up your mushrooms and chorizo, and cut up your bacon. You don’t want your slices too big – take a look at the picture below for my usual. (If you’re not using frozen onions – aim for like a 1cm² size I guess?) At some point during this you might like to put the water on to boil for the pasta – depending on how long that takes, you might end up juggling half-cut bacon and boiling pasta, like I did. You can also just wait until you’re done, like a normal person.
(Step 2.5: For the pasta – put a bunch of water into a pot, then cover it and put it on the stove on high heat. Once it’s properly bubbling, take the lid off and dump your dry pasta in there. Leave the lid off (I don’t know why, but that’s what they say to do) and stir occasionally. It should be done after about ten minutes (try taking a piece out with a spoon and chomping it to make sure) – turn off the element, put your colander in the sink, and pour the contents of the pan into it. Jiggle it around a little to make sure all the water’s gone, and then put the now-cooked pasta back in the pot, making sure not to put the pot back onto the hot element. Use one of the others!)
Once you’re done chopping, it should look a little like this:
Step 3: Put all of your chopped stuff into the frying pan along with a healthy dose of onions. If you think it’s enough, you could probably do with a little more. Turn the element on to a medium heat and let them fry for a while – keeping a responsible eye on them, of course.
Step 4: While you’re waiting for that, use your heroic strength to open the jar of carbonara sauce, and dollop it over your cooked pasta. Use a spoon or spatula or what-have-you to sort of spread it all around. You can also grate some cheese during this time – again, we want enough to cover everything once it’s in the baking square, so visualise it and aim for that.
Step 4.5: Realise you didn’t pre-heat the oven in step 1, despite KNOWING you had to do that, stupid boy.
Step 4.75: Stand up too quickly and crack your head into the bottom of the cupboards above you.
Step 4.9: Swear vigorously.
Step 4.99: And a bit more.
Step 4.999: Little more?
Step 4.9999: That’ll do. Pre-heat the oven.
Step 5: By now I’m assuming all your stuff is pretty well fried. You don’t want to, like, burn it, just make sure that everything’s, uh, done.
Once it is, add it all to the pot with the pasta and sauce in. Mix it up so it gets all distributed throughout the pasta, just like you did with the sauce. You know, like… THIS:
Step 6: Dollop the entire pan into your baking dish. You want to spread it out all pretty evenly.
Step 7: Add your cheese and a generous helping of breadcrumbs over top. You basically want to make sure every part of it gets some decent coverage, so sprinkle with reckless abandon!
Step 8: Into the oven! Just plonk it in there and set a timer for about 20 minutes – you can go a little longer if you like it a bit more well-done, but this should probably be fine.
Step 9: Relax a little! You’ve got time. You can clean up everything we’ve used (except a spoon to dish with), make sure you’ve got space to put the dish when you take it out, line up something good to watch on TV, start watching what’s on TV, get distracted watching TV…
Step 10: Alarm! 20 minutes is up! Take the dish out of the oven and scoop yourself a generous portion!
Cover the rest in tin foil, or scoop some into a container to take to work for lunch tomorrow. Congratulations! You did it!
The prep can take a while if you’re as slow as I am, but it’s all so easy, and I just love to make it. Pairs well with a nice lemon lime and bitters, served from – where else – a puppy bowl on the floor. Bon appetit, and thanks for reading!