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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Heston's Pea and Pancetta Spaghetti

I must admit I’m not Heston Blumenthal’s biggest fan. I feel that although what he does is undoubtedly very clever, it doesn’t reflect the passion for food and ingredients that I hold. He often puts random things together simply because of the properties they have and how they will look/mess with the mind of the eater. However, when I saw his advert for Waitrose and this meal he created I was pleasantly surprised. It seemed like a really simple and comforting supper, using just a few complimentary ingredients. I decided to try it out on my mum, who’s also very cynical about Mr Blumenthal. (Some of the instructions are very Hestony, with very specific timings etc, you do not need to be this precise and can test the pasta by throwing it against the wall instead if you like. Any excuse!)

Ingredients (Serves 6):
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5 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
250g pancetta, cubed
450g fresh spaghetti
6 medium egg yolks
100g freshly grated parmesan cheese
250g frozen peas
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:
1) Fill a large saucepan with water, cover with a lid and place over a medium-high heat to bring to the boil.
2) While the water heats up, put the olive oil, onion, garlic and chilli into a large frying pan and place it over a low to medium heat for 5mins, then add the pancetta. Cook for a further 5mins.
3) Once the water comes to the boil, add the spaghetti and set a timer for 10mins. Stir the spaghetti every few mins to prevent it from sticking together.Photobucket
4) With 3mins left before the spaghetti is cooked, whisk together the egg yolks, parmesan cheese and a ladle of the spaghetti cooking water.
5) With 1min to go before the pasta is cooked, take the pancetta and onions off the heat and add the frozen peas.
6) Strain the pasta and return it to the saucepan. Add the contents of the frying pan and mix together. Add the black pepper and the egg and cheese mixture and allow to sit for 2mins. Stir thoroughly to incorporate everything then serve with some grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
Copyright Heston Blumenthal 2010

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This meal was a great alternative to a carbonara. I love the creamy cheesiness of a carbonara against the tasty pancetta, but I often find it far too rich and avoid ordering it as I know I’ll never finish it. This was just right, giving you the satisfaction and taste of a carbonara, but tasted a lot fresher, was very moreish and had a lovely surprising chilli kick. I didn’t have enough pancetta and so substituted some for bacon which worked fine. I also served with a baked potato for a very fulfilling carbs-fest!

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