need a chef's advice - pasta carbonara/ cacio e pepe/ mac n cheese cookoff idea
I am signed up for a mac'n'cheese cook off at my local bar. My idea is to create an italian inspired carbonara-cacio e pepe style mac n cheese offering. Black pepper, parmigiano, and al dente pasta is a winning combination imo. Add a bit of smoked bacon and egg to the mix and it will take it over the top.
What I'd like to include is:
-Applewood smoked bacon
-2 or three white cheeses such as parmigiano/asiago/pecorino/grana
-a bunch of coarse ground black pepper
I guess essentially it will be a very cheesy peppery version of carbonara so that it will be considered a mac n cheese.
I will be making a big hotel pan of this stuff. I'm concerned about the safety - the eggs are technically "cooked" from the heat of the pasta by turning off the heat of the pan and adding the eggs and cheese to the pasta. It's always been a tug of war for me to cook the eggs to a safe temperature without the eggs coagulating from the heat. For this I am cooking for the public, not for my guests in my kitchen so I'm very concerned about food safety with the eggs. Is there a way to ensure the eggs are cooked besides wishful thinking? Is there a way to "denature" the eggs before adding so that they can withstand a high heat temperature and get cooked? Do I need to use some kind of pasteurized eggs?
I can't speak for the science of eggs.......but i would suggest you use a mini version of penne
Have you considered using the eggs to create a custard sauce that you could toss the pasta with at the end? That way you wold have your eggs without the concern you are expressing about doneness. I have to say you are straying very far from the traditional cacio e pepe with so many cheese, let alone the bacon and eggs, so you might want to reconsider the name. To keep it a little more Italian, why not use pancetta? Good luck, it sounds like fun.
Thank you. I want to use applewood smoked bacon (rather than pancetta or guanciale) because I've used it before when making carbonara and I actually liked it better.
I agree my idea is definitely not cacio e pepe - it is just influenced by it.
I'd like to learn more of this custard sauce - what were you thinking?
- Penne - Be sure to use a rigate so the sauce adheres.
- Applewood smoked bacon - hmmm, I'm thinking rendered pancetta would be best. Although maybe a hint of smoked paprika for some subtle flavor?
- parmigiano/asiago/pecorino/grana - while all good cheeses, I would try to incorporate some kind of mild melting cheese (cacio cavallo, talegio) and maybe finish the top off with one of the hard grating cheeses so it can brown nicely.
If you want to get away from the egg worries, perhaps you could make a nice thick bechamel with the softer melting cheeses and stir in with the pasta?
I don't know...my .02
I would switch to bechamel. One of the few things I've ever gotten food poisoning from is bad carbonara, because of the eggs, as you surmise.