Recipe: BackDoor Kitchen’s Carbonara di Fave

Recipe: BackDoor Kitchen’s Carbonara di Fave

As an admittedly curious gal, I was most excited when the BackDoor Kitchen tweeted me about a secret supperclub in Bermondsey, one of my favourite places in London. Secrets are ALL the rage right now. Secret kitchens, secret bars… make anything even remotely secret and I am all up on that. And as a half-Sicilian, I was even more excited when I realised the chefs are Italian natives themselves. Bring on the arancini, polpetti, carne, canolli… etc.

After a bit more of a chat, and me being extremely cheeky, Rob kindly whipped up this exclusive recipe just for six out of ten mag’s lovely readers. Isn’t that kind?

It was taste tested by the pros themselves and got a resounding thumbs up.

Rob says: “One of the myths behind the origins of carbonara sauce was started just after the Allied army entered the city, putting an end to WWII for Italy. But Roman chefs struggled to please the American soldiers, who craved a taste of home, not pizza or pasta. As many of them couldn’t find their bacon and scrambled eggs in any bar or trattoria,” he continues, “the locals decided to meet the demand and tailor an ad-hoc recipe based on their starred-and-striped likings. They did it with the only ingredients they could get their hands on that would fit the American bill: eggs and pancetta or guanciale (cured pork’s cheek). This is how, according to one of the many myths, the Romans came up with pasta carbonara.”

As is custom at the BackDoor Kitchen, their chef took tradition, played around and put his own creative twist on it. Because in this carbonara di fave, there will be bacon.

80g broad beans
150g British smoked bacon lardons
200g fresh tagliatelle pasta (or rigatoni – whichever floats your pasta boat)
25g Pecorino Romano cheese
25g Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 whole medium eggs
1 red onion
20ml white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Salt to taste
Serves two
Carbonara di Fave

The onion
Slice the onion very finely. Place the sliced onion and sugar in a pan on high heat and wait for the onions to release their water and natural sugars. Toss the onions until they get softer, after around 5 minutes.

Just before they start sticking to the pan add in the vinegar and lower the flame. Once they’re caramelised – when the onions get a strong purplish colour, their texture is nice and tender and all the liquids look syrupy and coat the onion slices – put the them aside.

The broad beans
While the onion is cooking, fill up a small pot with water and bring it to the boil. Add the broad beans and a pinch of salt. Leave it cooking for about 3 minutes or until tender but not mashy. Take them out of the water, drain and put aside for later.

The cheese
In a bowl beat the eggs with a fork, then add Pecorino, Parmesan and ground black pepper. Mix well and put aside.

The bacon
Pre-heat a pan and, when hot, put in the bacon lardons as they are with nothing else. In a few minutes they’ll start crisping up and release the juices from the fat.

Lower the flame and add the broad beans so they absorb extra flavour from the lardons. Toss for a few minutes and allow the broad beans to get slightly toasted. Taste and add more salt if needed.

The pasta
In the meantime, bring some water to a boil in another pot, add coarse salt and put in the pasta. We use our home-made tagliatelle but you can use any kind of fresh or dried pasta – rigatoni go really well with this dish. Just make sure that the cooking time of the pasta matches the cooking time of the lardons and the broadbeans. For instance, if the pasta takes 5 minutes to cook, don’t start cooking the lardons 15 minutes before boiling your pasta!

The end
When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander and put it in the same pan where the lardons and the broadbeans are. Move the pan away from the fire (this is key!) and add the egg and cheese mix, the onions and stir up quickly so that the mix will be absorbed by the pasta. Serve it with some Pecorino cheese and ground black pepper on top.

So there you have it. And as broad beans will be in season soon, it’s a quick and easy spring-time meal. You could say it’s our FAVE. (I’ll take myself to the naughty step of terrible puns.) If your cooking skills go no futher than deciding whether to have beans or Alphabetti Spagetti on toast (for shame, also beans) then the next Roman themed supperclub at The Backdoor Kitchen is on April, the 20th. For more information email them here.

Americans are more than welcome.

Psssst. Thanks to Fabio Forin for his lovely pictures.