Chicken Carbonara

charcoal sauce

August 27th 2011

I had some leftover roast chicken and fancied something creamy with spaghetti, so carbonara seemed to fit the bill. Carbonara (of the charcoal worker) is traditionally a combination of spaghetti, pancetta, parmesan (or pecorino), eggs and fat (these days, generally cream). The origin of the dish is unknown/confused – there are conflicting stories about charcoal workers, coal miners, resistance fighters and even American GIs with scrambled eggs and bacon. None of the stories sound completely authentic, though the dish itself, that of cooking raw egg and pasta is likely to be very old. I can’t help thinking that it sounds like a meal for Mardi Gras before a Lenten fast. My recipe has strayed a little from the original, but it does contain the traditional ingredients and a few extras.


Chicken Carbonara recipe (serves 2 – 3):

1 cooked chicken breast and leg (chopped)
4 slices of smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
2 free range egg yolks
2 heaped dessert spoonfuls of crème fraîche
1/2 pint of fresh chicken stock
2 handfulls of freshly grated parmesan
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
6 button mushrooms (chopped)
fresh peas (9 pods)
fresh broad beans (6 pods)
olive oil
a splash of dry vermouth
sea salt and cracked black pepper

chicken and bacon

I made a pint of chicken stock beforehand, with the bones of the roast chicken, a mirepoix and some herbs – see my stock recipe.

fried bacon

Fry the bacon in a little olive oil until it becomes crispy.

cream and yolks

In the meantime, beat 2 egg yolks and the crème fraîche,


season with black pepper

mixture with parmesan

before stirring in a handful of grated parmesan cheese.

bacon, mushroom and garlic

Add mushrooms and garlic to the bacon


and when they look to be coated with oil, stir in the chopped chicken. Since the chicken was already cooked (raw chicken would require more cooking time), I poured on quarter of a pint of chicken stock and turned up the gas to simmer the liquid, the idea being to reduce the stock and flavour the chicken.

fresh broad beans and peas

Shell the peas and broad beans – cook as usual in a little salty water.

beans and peas

When they are tender, drain them, but leave them in the warm saucepan until needed. These are a real departure from carbonara, but I fancied adding the peas and since I had broad beans too, I thought both would be nice. Peas and broad beans are still in season -99% of my vegetables come from Perry Court Farm and I’ve never liked frozen. I wish I had land to grow my own, but then I’d miss talking to the farmer on Sundays.

chicken stock

Once the chicken stock has reduced, add another quarter of a pint (continue to simmer – almost all of it will be absorbed or reduce)

cooking pasta

and put a saucepan of water on to boil for the spaghetti. Don’t put the spaghetti in until the water has come to the boil – simmer the pasta and stir at regular intervals. Test that the pasta is al dente before draining. Reserve a small amount of the water. 1 packet of spaghetti serves about 3 – 4 hungry people.

add the beans and peas

In the meantime, when the pasta is nearly ready, stir a small splash of dry vermouth into the carbonara ingredients, for flavour, before adding the beans and peas.


Stir the cream and egg mixture into the other ingredients, on a very low heat (or even no heat) – it’s important that the eggs don’t curdle.

spaghetti and sauce

Put the drained pasta into the carbonara pan and a little pasta water (just a touch – don’t let the sauce go runny).

spaghetti carbonara

Give the spaghetti a good coating of sauce and serve immediately with a little black pepper, salt if needed, plus the remaining grated parmesan.

chicken carbonara

I’m sure that the biggest deviation from the original carbonara would be in the fact I made a sauce and added the spaghetti to it. Properly done, the eggs mixture would be poured onto the hot spaghetti, in order to cook it without scrambling (something that doesn’t happen with my method either).

About Mad Dog
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4 Responses to Chicken Carbonara

  1. Looks amazing and I love that you´ve given it your own twist. I personally like my carbonara on the “saucy” side so this would be perfect for me. Love the addition of the broad beans – we grew tons and tons earlier this year and have just gone for a second planting (planted the seeds a week ago and they have all sprouted) so are hoping for more. Fingers crossed – maybe I´ll be able to make this!

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Thanks 😉 I envy you, your broad beans (not to mention the tomatoes and basil) they only last for a couple of months during the summer here.

  3. Pingback: Faux Carbonara | Mad Dog TV Dinners

  4. Pingback: Faux Carbonara | Mad Dog TV Dinners

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