SINGAPORE (June 5): There is something so satisfying about a dish of carbonara : this classic Italian pasta dish is a tricky one to get absolutely right, but once perfected, it comes together beautifully as a silky, rich, and indulgent meal to have with a loved one — and some wine, of course. This week, we’ve issued our Chef’s Challenge to Chef Mitch Orr of CicciaBella, who shares his five-ingredient (really!) carbonara recipe. 

Instructions

1. Place the pancetta (bacon is acceptable in this economy) in a pan with a little olive oil. Start on medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and let the pancetta cook in its own fat until nice and crispy. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, place egg yolks, a handful of grated parmesan per person and a heavy crack of black pepper. Mix together (and don’t throw away the egg whites — keep them for other uses!).

3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente.

4. Add the pancetta (or bacon) and some of the fat — it’s tasty!

5. Strain the pasta. Keep some of the pasta water for the next step.

6. Add the pasta to the egg yolk mixture and mix immediately. The residual heat from the pasta will cook the egg yolk and melt the cheese to form your sauce. If the sauce gets too tight, add a little pasta water and continue mixing until you get a nice, thick and luscious sauce.

7. Check the seasoning — perhaps add a pinch of salt and another crack of pepper and even more cheese. 8. Slurp your carbonara down straight away! 

Chef's bio

Born and raised in the western suburbs of Sydney, Chef Mitch Orr knew early in his teenage years that professional cooking was what he wanted to do with his life. Beginning his career in a pub in Parramatta, Orr has since cut his teeth in some of Sydney’s highest-profile kitchens including Lo Studio, Pello, Pilu at Freshwater, The Beresford, Sepia and his own personal outing, ACME. In 2010, Orr won the Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year Award while he was sharpening his technical skills at three-hatted restaurant, Sepia.

The award included a stint at Italy’s famous Osteria Francescana to eat, learn and absorb all he can and to bring these experiences back to share with the Sydney dining scene. ACME was opened in 2015 and clinched Time Out’s Restaurant of the Year award five months after its opening. The restaurant was also awarded one-hat at Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Awards. Spending time with top Italian Australian chef Giovanni Pilu has taught Orr the classic Italian techniques, something he has been expanding on and has recently brought with him to CicciaBella, his first collaboration with restaurateur Maurice Terzini.

 

Chef Mitch says...

"Carbonara is such a classic dish, with easy-to-find ingredients: guanciale (an Italian cured meat), pecorino (an Italian hard cheese), eggs, and pepper. People don’t realise how easy it is to make, or they do very silly things like try to put cream in it. Don’t put cream in your carbonara! Also, don’t put the egg yolk and cheese mix into a pan, that’s how you make scrambled eggs.

Mix the pasta into the eggs in a bowl instead. There is enough residual heat in the pasta to ‘cook’ the eggs and form the sauce. Adding anything else to carbonara makes it no longer carbonara. In the current state of affairs, you can get away with pancetta and parmesan instead of guanciale and pecorino. If you really want to add anything else, like chives or mushrooms, you can — just don’t call the resulting dish carbonara!"