Pasta provides the home chef great versatility as it goes well in red sauces, oil, butter or cream sauces. Fettuccine Carbonara is a superb way to serve pasta in a cream sauce, along with Proscuitto ham and vegetables. Some recipes call for using regular ham, cubed, but I much prefer the Proscuitto ham for a more intense taste. No recipes I have ever seen use sun dried tomatoes … but the flavor they add is really great, for it remains in the tomato pieces and does not flavor the sauce. There was a restaurant in Wilmington DE named the Town House® that used sun dried tomatoes in one pasta dish that had a cream sauce. That dish was delicious, thus this recipe developed with that addition in mind. It was/is a good decision.
Marie used to make this dish and she got rave reviews from the family. The recipe I provide here is my best guess as to how she made it (I helped at times) with a few of my changes and when I find her exact recipe I will make any necessary changes to this one as appropriate. Do note that I already know this is a fine recipe, so worry not … enjoy it.
Ingredients: (Serves four)
1 lb. Fettuccine
1 pint heavy cream
3 cups milk (Start with 2 cups and add the third if needed for sauce consistency)
1 lb. Proscuitto ham thinly sliced and chopped
1 cup of frozen or fresh peas (never, ever use canned peas!)
1 small sweet onion, chopped fine
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, drained, wiped to eliminate the oil and chopped
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. white pepper
Sea salt (Use only if wanted after the completed dish is served to each guest)
Parmesan or Locatel cheese, freshly grated
Pre-heat the oven to 200ºF. Put a large pasta serving platter and four wide shallow individual serving bowls into the oven.
Put 4 quarts of water and ½ tsp. salt into a six quart pot. Cover the pot with a lid and heat the water on high heat until it is boiling. Turn off the heat and keep the pot covered. This will facilitate later cooking of the pasta when the Carbonara sauce is done, as the water in the pot will still be hot and easy to bring back to a boil.
Melt the butter in a large (3 or 4 quart) skillet with high sides. Sauté the chopped onion on low heat until it is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute.
Add the peas and the chopped sun dried tomatoes and mix well on low heat. Add the chopped ham and the white pepper and mix briefly.
Add two cups of the milk to the skillet slowly while stirring and heat on low heat to a scalding temperature (around 180ºF) until it is lightly steaming but not boiling.
Mix the cornstarch completely with the cream and then add it slowly to the skillet while stirring to create a uniform mixture. Bring the skillet contents to a simmer on low heat while stirring until the cornstarch thickens the sauce. Do not boil. If the sauce is too thick add the other cup of milk and mix well. Cover the skillet with a lid and turn off the heat.
Reheat the water in the pot to boiling on high heat and add the Fettuccine. Mix well after one minute to assure the pieces of Fettuccine do not stick together. Boil per the directions on the package.
When the Fettuccine is finished cooking pour the pot contents into a colander to drain the Fettuccine. Then put the Fettuccine into the skillet with the Carbonara sauce and mix gently until all pieces are well coated.
Pour the skillet contents into the pre-heated large pasta serving platter. Serve the Fettuccine Carbonara using the pre-heated individual serving bowls along with a dish of freshly grated Parmesan or Locatel cheese on the side for table use.
Let each guest individually add salt if they want to adjust the seasoning.
Enjoy! This is a fine tasting and very filling dish.
Serve it with a light white wine like a Pinot Grigio or a French White Burgundy.
A side salad with Italian dressing provides a fine taste contrast to the creamy Fettuccine Carbonara to make each bite provide maximum enjoyment.