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Carbonara with or without milk/cream?

Kamanda1953 Oct 3, 2011 04:29 PM

A few times a year I make pasta carbonara, usually with spaghetti or linguine. My go to recipe uses fried bacon or pancetta pieces, sautéed onion and garlic, whisked whole eggs, a splash or three of white wine, fresh ground pepper and grated cheese.

I have seen more than a few recipes that also call for the addition of some milk or cream. Do any of you add it?
How does it change the taste or texture of your final dish?

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  1. pikawicca RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 3, 2011 04:31 PM

    No milk. No cream. Add these, and you've got a dish other than Carbonara.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca
      carbonaraboy RE: pikawicca Oct 3, 2011 04:34 PM

      The creaminess should come from the eggs. If it's not creamy enough, you don't have enough eggs, are overcooking them, or both.

      1. re: pikawicca
        LaLa RE: pikawicca Oct 3, 2011 04:37 PM

        plus one...no milk .no cream

        1. re: pikawicca
          Leepa RE: pikawicca Oct 3, 2011 04:50 PM

          The recipe I've been making for years (originally from Time-Life's Foods of the World book on Italy) calls for cream. Basic recipe is to cook the pasta, fry up the bacon, add cream and red pepper flakes and keep hot. Beat up the eggs (add some egg yolks) and add parmesan cheese. Drain pasta into a warmed serving dish, throw in some softened butter and toss, add the bacon/ cream mixture, toss to coat, and then add the egg mixture. Toss. Serve with more parmesan and freshly ground pepper. Delish!

        2. paulj RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 3, 2011 04:44 PM

          The versions with cream or milk are more forgiving. Without it you have to get the time and temperature right, else you end up with uncooked or scrambled eggs and cheese. Cream also extends the 'shelf life'.

          1. greygarious RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 3, 2011 04:58 PM

            It's delicious either way. I think cream has become more common because of peoples' fear of raw eggs (which I do not share). If I have cream I'm not using up fast enough, or am running low on eggs, I stretch the eggs with cream when making carbonara. It does not bother me that cream isn't "kosher", as it were.

            1. j
              jjjrfoodie RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 3, 2011 05:01 PM

              I normally make the more traditional version with pancetta and no cream/dairy, but when I am in the mood for a different twist, I use the Frugal Gourmet's version which includes heavy cream or half and half and a splash of white wine vinegar . I also pop in a handfull of blanched fresh peas when I add the whisked eggs for this recipe.

              It's not true to the original, but it is very very tasty none the less.

              The daily add a silky quality that compliments the eggs, but it does aim the direction of the final dish into "alfredo" territory which many may find as blasphemous. LOL.

              1. Njchicaa RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 3, 2011 05:19 PM

                No milk, no cream, no wine.

                I make mine with linguine, eggs, crispy bacon, a pinch of nutmeg, and lots of black pepper.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Njchicaa
                  Kamanda1953 RE: Njchicaa Oct 3, 2011 05:36 PM

                  What IS it about nutmeg that even a pinch can make a creamy soup or a creamy-tasting pasta w/ cheese dish just POP? I always use it when I make turkey tetrazzini. Now! I will try it in my whisked eggs for carbonara, too.

                2. j
                  jaykayen RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 4, 2011 12:51 AM

                  No. But I will whisk a few tablespoons of the pasta water into the eggs. The addition of pasta water (or milk, or cream) will make the sauce more liquid. Done right, it makes the sauce silkier or smoother.

                  1. TheHuntress RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 4, 2011 01:16 AM

                    My recipe for carbonara is crispy bacon, wine, whole eggs with the addition of an extra yolk or two, butter, parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. If I have some double cream lying around I might throw a spoonful in, but really I do that just to make the creamy sauce go further so I can have more!

                    1. l
                      lazybaker RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 4, 2011 02:17 PM

                      Same here. Never with milk or cream. I saute guanciale (or pancetta), whisk in raw egg yolks and parm cheese til emulsified and then toss in the cooked pasta. I'll add some pasta water to thin if necessary. It's always creamy and smooth.

                      1. mariacarmen RE: Kamanda1953 Oct 4, 2011 03:27 PM

                        Without. learned how to make mine from an old italian lady in Piemonte.

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