Everyone loves a good Carbonara. Obviously, it’s always a little trickier for halal carbonara since bacon or pancetta is a key ingredient in making the dish. While a vegetarian carbonara is nice, it just still misses an edge. Halal turkey/beef rashers would be an easily accessible substitute and do the job. But wait until you’ve tried cured beef bacon…oooouf it’s a flavour bomb!
With the halal food industry constantly growing and evolving, halal beef bacon is starting to become more accessible especially through online butchers. If you wonder how does beef bacon come along, it’s essentially the same idea as pork bacon but from a cow instead! Beef bacon basically comes from the navel part that links to the brisket. You can make it yourself too if you’re down for some work in curing and smoking the meat.
How to make Halal Carbonara using Beef Bacon
- Cured Beef Bacon
- Egg, Egg Yolk, Reserved Pasta Water – for the carbonara sauce
- Italian Hard Cheese – the vegetarian-friendly alternative to Pecorino Romano, i.e the traditional cheese pick for Italian carbonara
- Black Pepper – to taste
- Butter (optional) – to give the sauce an extra silkiness
The beef bacon is going to be your main flavouring. That’s why I prefer using cured beef bacon as the flavour is more intense and offers deep umami. Cured beef bacon is usually quite salty itself so you probably don’t need to season the dish with extra salt. The saltiness and flavours are all about the fat from the bacon and that’s why rashers are not able to replicate the same effect due to lower fat content. If using rashers, you may need a little extra touch of butter and salt.
You may notice that there is no cream being used in the recipe. The Italians would certainly frown at you if you use cream in your carbonara. So where does the creaminess come from? It’s from the emulsion of raw eggs, pasta water and cheese. You will have to first mix the three ingredients together and then mix it into the pasta away from heat. Because of the eggs, there is the risk of the egg scrambling up under high heat instead of forming a smooth creamy sauce. It’s quite a crucial step where it make-or-break your pasta carbonara.
As for the choice of cheese, traditionally, carbonara uses Pecorino Romano even though many nowadays would simply use Parmesan. Anyhow, neither cheese is vegetarian-friendly so, for a halal substitute, I find vegetarian Italian Hard Cheese works the best. I usually get mine from Waitrose.
Last but not least, pasta choice. It’s something I’ve mentioned before on this creamy thyme mushroom bucatini recipe that I have a preference over Bucatini pasta. If you have any creamy sauce base, bucatini is the perfect pasta to carry it. Though, of course, you can just use any pasta of your choice!
Beef Bacon Halal Carbonara
- 240 g Spaghetti / Bucatini Pasta or any pasta of your choice
- Cured Beef Bacon
- 2-3 cloves Garlic
- ½-1 cup Pasta Water reserved from cooking the pasta
- 1 Egg
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 40 g Grated Italian Hard Cheese vegetarian-friendly substitute of Pecorino Romano / Parmesan
- ½ tsp Black Pepper plus more to taste
- 1 tbsp Butter (optional)
- Bring a pot of water to boil and season generously with salt. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve at least ½ cup pasta water.240 g Spaghetti / Bucatini Pasta
- Heat pan over medium heat. Fry the beef bacon until the fat is released.Cured Beef Bacon
- Stir in chopped garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and golden in colour. Add in cooked pasta and toss to combine.2-3 cloves Garlic
- In a bowl, mix together egg, egg yolks, black pepper, grated cheese, and the pasta water.½-1 cup Pasta Water, 1 Egg, 2 Egg Yolks, 40 g Grated Italian Hard Cheese, ½ tsp Black Pepper
- Remove the pan from heat and pour in the egg-cheese mixture. Stir until a creamy sauce forms. If it's too thick, add more pasta water; alternatively, if it's too thin, add more cheese.
- If you want to create a silkier texture, add a tablespoon of butter and mix until melted and fully combined. Top with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.1 tbsp Butter (optional)
- Cured beef bacon has a more intense flavour and higher fat content compared to beef/turkey rashers. If using rashers, fry with a little touch of oil and add salt for seasoning.
- It is very crucial to remove the pasta from heat before you stir in the egg-cheese mixture. Otherwise, the egg from the mixture may scramble up under high heat instead of forming a creamy sauce.
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