Ready-warmed bowls. Timing and temperatures seriously matter in this dish.
You’re aiming to add the still-hot, fried ingredients – chiles, mushrooms, bacon, and garlic - to the pasta the moment it’s cooked and drained. And then you’ll be very quickly stirring in your egg, cream, cheeses, and peas for the final few moments’ cooking.
So, first up is to beat the eggs together in a mixing bowl with the cream, parmesan, and a heaped teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Do make sure the eggs, cream, and parmesan are at room temperature first. Straight from the refrigerator is a definite no-no. Why? Well, that mixture is going to be rapidly combined with the pasta right after the fried stuff’s added. If it’s cold, the whole lot will take far too long to heat in the pan. Result? The egg will start to scramble rather than staying totally smooth. And that must not happen. Must. Not. Happen.
Fill a good-sized saucepan 3/4 full with water, add a heaped teaspoon salt, and bring to the boil on a high heat. The pan needs to be big enough to easily hold the pasta and all other ingredients once the pasta’s cooked.
Add the fettucine, and reduce the heat a little so the water stays at a good rolling boil. Let the pasta cook like that for about 8 minutes. You want it to be just barely al dente, so try a piece to make sure.
While the pasta water is coming to the boil, set a skillet onto a high heat and add the butter. As soon as it foams, stir in the chiles, bacon, garlic, and mushrooms. Drop the heat to medium-high and cook for about 6 minutes with a good few stirs. You want to melt about half the fat from the bacon, and for it to colour slightly but not to become crunchy-crisp. Then drop the heat to low so that everything in the skillet stays nicely hot in readiness to join the cooked pasta.
Now things need to happen carefully but quickly – and I mean quickly.
Drain the fettucine and return it steaming hot to its pan over a low-medium heat. Fast as you can, add the thinly sliced goat’s cheese, peas and everything from the bacon-fatted skillet. Give the pan a few thorough stirs as it sits for 90 seconds on that low-medium heat.
Now stir in the egg, cream and parmesan mix so that it coats everything in the pan. Drop the heat to low. Continue stirring in a thorough, coat-it-all fashion for another 90 seconds on that low heat.
It’s now crucial – yep, crucial - that the pan’s slowly growing heat gets evenly distributed through all of your chili con carbonara. Too long and too hot will mean the eggs won’t stay completely smooth – don’t let that happen.
Remove from the heat and serve immediately into those warmed bowls.
To drink? A mellow, fruity (but not citrussy), lightly oaked chardonnay would be grand. As would a big-fruited shiraz.