Eggs and bacon mixed with pasta that dates back for many years. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Making Pasta Carbonara into a casserole, even better! This is my Pasta Carbonara Souffle.
Let’s get started.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 48 to 50 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Equipment: 1 (3-quart) baking dish (15″ x 9 1/2″ x 2 1/2 “high), 6-quart saucepot, 1 (3-quart) saucepot, colander, 1 (10-inch) sauté pan, large mixing bowl, hand-held electric mixer, Microplane.
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/4 pound of pancetta, diced
1 pound (1 box) of Barilla Cellentani (corkscrew pasta) slightly undercooked, rinsed, and cooled (substitute gluten-free pasta)
3 cups of whole milk, room temperature (substitute 2%)
1 cup of half-and-half, room temperature
1/2 a stick (4 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted, plus 3 tablespoons for the top (extra for greasing the baking dish)
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, (substitute gluten-free flour)
5 ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated (reserve 1/4 cup for topping)
4 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of Italian flat-leaf parsley plus 2 tablespoons for garnish, finely chopped
1 (8-ounce) package of the ‘Italian blend’ shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
First butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish.
Start with a small cold sauté pan add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and diced pancetta. Cook over medium heat allowing all the fat to render out and the pancetta to become crisp, around 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the crisp diced pancetta to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain any extra grease. Set aside.
Place 4 egg whites in a clean glass bowl. I’m looking for them to be nice and frothy. With the mixer on low, beat the whites until they become frothy but not quite to the soft peaks stage. At this point, add the cream of tartar. Continue beating the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted add the flour (optional, gluten-free flour). Continuously whisking until the raw flour is cooked out and becomes blonde in color and paste-like forming a *roux.
In a 3-quart saucepot bring milk and half-and-half (*scald) up to temperature. Pour the hot milk mixture into the *roux all at once. Add 1 teaspoon each of Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Double-check the thickness by dipping a wooden spoon into the sauce. Take your finger and make a line down the back of the spoon, if the sauce stays separated and doesn’t run together. Turn the heat off.
Remove the pot from the heat, then add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley. Switch to a spatula, stir to combine. Next, gently *fold in the egg whites.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta one-minute shy of al dente according to the package instructions for about 8 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking during the baking process.
Drain the pasta into a large colander. Rinse the pasta under some cold water to stop the cooking process for just a minute before adding it into the casserole dish. Once the pasta is somewhat cooled, it’s time to put this together.
To assemble, add half the cooled pasta, then half of the cheesy souffle sauce. On top of that, sprinkle half of the cooked Pancetta. Repeat this process one more time. Now for the topping, add the finely shredded Italian cheese blend, a little more of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. *Dot the top all over with butter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until brown and bubbly. Do not open the oven for the first 20 minutes. You want the dish to rise beautifully as a souffle should.
Allow the dish to rest for 15 to 20 minutes to set. There you have it, my Pasta Carbonara Souffle.
*Dot is to place little pieces of butter on the top of a casserole dish or pie.
*Fold or folding is a very precise term in cooking and baking. It meat that you have to carefully combine two mixtures of different thickness and weight into one (relatively) smooth mixture. This is accomplished by a specific technique of using a spatula to lift the two mixtures together, turning them over so they combine.
*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces.
*Scald is milk heated to a near boil. Small bubbles will appear around the inner rim of the pot.