Christmas leftovers never seem to run out, the most recent festive season was no exception. We had some smoked ham in the fridge, so I made smoked ham and mushroom carbonara. It turned out to be a diverse and tasty twist on the Italian classic.
Smoked Ham & Mushroom Carbonara
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Large saucepan
- Frying pan or wok
- Cheese grater
- Mixing bowl
- Pasta tongs or a long-handled fork
- 250g smoked ham
- 600g fresh spaghetti
- 4 large eggs
- 50g Parmesan Reggiano (plus extra for garnish)
- 50g Pecorino Romano
- Black and red pepper
- 2 smoked garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- 300g chestnut mushrooms
- 200g asparagus (optional)
- Fresh flat-leaved parsley (garnish)
I used leftover smoked ham with ours. The ham was smoked in our Big Green Egg over alder wood with The Smokey Carter chiptole and bourbon BBQ sauce and Dizzy Pig Crossroads rub (affiliate links). The combination gave a wonderfully rich aromatic to the ham and, in turn, this dish. The dish will work with any pre-cooked smoked ham, though. If you’re making this completely from scratch and want to go authentic, the traditional ingredients is guanciale.
Traditional carbonara doesn’t have mushrooms in it, but I like them in so add them. It also doesn’t have asparagus, but I like that too, and both it and the mushrooms make for a more interesting meal. It’s a personal choice.
- Cube the smoked ham into small chunks. Finely grate the cheeses. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl and season with a little black and red pepper. Crush the garlic.
- If using them, quarter the mushrooms and slice the asparagus into small pieces.
- Add boiling water to a saucepan, then the spaghetti. Bring the water back to boil, then simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the spaghetti is al dente (just cooked). If being used, add the asparagus and cook for another 30 secs.
- Meanwhile, heat up a little olive oil in a frying pan (or wok) and fry the ham, mushrooms (if used) and garlic. Leave to cook on a medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
- When the pasta is ready, remove it from the water with a pasta fork or tongs and put it in the frying pan with the ham and mushrooms. Keep the water in the pasta pan for now.
- Take the frying pan off the heat. Mix the grated cheese with the eggs and add into the pan. Then with tongs or a long fork, mix the spaghetti with the egg mixture so everything is coated. Add in a little water from the pasta pan, a bit at a time, to keep the pasta moist.
- Apply a little heat to the pan to warm the food, take care not to curdle the egg mixture.
- Serve into bowls, sprinkle some extra grated cheese and pepper. Garnish with chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley.
Hints, Tips and Pictures
- A gentle lift and drop action with the pasta is a good way to get it evenly coated with the egg/cheese mix.
- Dry spaghetti can also be used, this takes longer to cook.
- Butter can be used instead of oil to fry the ham, this gives a creamier flavour and finish.