Oh my days, why has it taken me so long to infiltrate one of my favorite pasta dishes with beautiful chestnuts that can be nutty, crumbly and savory, but sweet and smooth all at the same time.
Chestnut Carbonara (Smoky Pancetta, Creamy Pecorino & Black Pepper Sauce)
- 5 ounces random leftover dried pasta
- 3 slices of smoked pancetta or bacon
- 6 ounces vac-packed chestnuts
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 ounces pecorino or Parmesan, plus extra to serve
- Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water according to the package instructions, then drain, reserving a cupful of starchy cooking water. With 4 minutes to go, finely slice the pancetta and place in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once sizzling, crumble in the chestnuts and add a generous pinch of black pepper, then stir regularly until golden and crisp.
- Meanwhile, separate the eggs, putting the yolks into a bowl (save the whites for making meringues another day), then finely grate in the cheese and mix together. Tip the drained pasta into the chestnut pan, then remove from the heat and wait 2 minutes for the pan to cool slightly (if the pan’s too hot, it’ll scramble; get it right and it’ll be smooth, silky and deliciously elegant). Loosen the egg mixture with a splash of the reserved cooking water, then pour over the pasta, tossing and stirring vigorously – the egg will gently cook in the residual heat. Season to perfection. Adjust the consistency with extra cooking water, if needed, and finish with a fine grating of cheese, if you like.