A good pasta carbonara separates the strong from the weak, the great from the average. Master that dish and you can certainly wow some dinner guests. The carbonara from Café Saint-Ex’s executive chef, Billy Klein, uses udon noodles and fresh pea shoots for a slightly different spin. The result? A pasta dish that remains light and fresh, even with a creamy sauce.
I can’t make any guarantees that yours will turn out as good as it does at Café Saint-Ex, so if I were you I’d head there first to check out the original with what was the best pork belly I’ve ever had (not an exaggeration)—crisp on the outside and not a bit of grizzly fat on the inside. And while you’re there the rest of this month, check out some of Billy’s creations for National Grilled Cheese month (read: grilled cheese on “potato bread”–gooey cheddar cheese and bacon in between slices of potatoes or the brioche encrusted with Fruity Pebbles and melted brie inside).
The full recipe, broken down by parts (roll up your sleeves and get ready for a little challenge!), is after the jump.
Billy Klein’s Udon Carbonara with Pork Belly and a Soft Egg
Ingredients and Instructions For the Pork Belly:
2 lb. pork belly
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1. Three days ahead, rub the pork belly with the salt and brown sugar evenly coating and allow to sit overnight to absorb.
2. The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roast the belly for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until tender. Remove from the oven and refrigerate once cool overnight.
3. The next day, remove the pork from whatever dish you cooked in and scrape away the excess fat. Reserve the jus for the sauce later. Using a stove top smoker, smoke for about ten minutes, and then cool again. You may cut into your desired portion size at this point, we do about 3 oz. (Author’s note: Good Housekeeping and Lifehacker have simple instructions on how to make a stove top smoker.)
Ingredients and Instructions For the Sauce:
1/4 lb. butter
1/4 lb. flour
1 pint milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 yellow onion, rough chop
1/4 cup garlic, rough chop
Reserved pork jus
1. Melt down the butter and lightly sauté the onions and garlic with it.
2. Add the flour, fully incorporating, and cool for about five minutes or until it’s golden brown. Add the milk and heavy cream, and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes or until it’s nice and thick. Strain through a chinois, and add the pork jus.
Instructions For the Eggs:
6 whole large eggs
1. Bring a pot of water to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Gently place the eggs in the water and cook at this temperature for about one hour. This is difficult with an electric stove but you will need to monitor the water temperature frequently, either adding ice to decrease the temperature or turning the up to maintain. If you happen to have an immersion circulator just set the water temp to 145 and walk away, no need to worry.
Instructions For the Noodles:
Chef’s Note: We use a high quality Japanese itsuki inaka udon noodle. These may be hard to find in a store but they can be ordered online through Amazon or elsewhere. These cook just like any other noodle, boiling water until soft. Author’s Note: Whole Foods has a selection of udon noodles to choose from.
1. We start by searing the pork belly until crisp and hot all the way through.
2. Next, we heat the sauce with noodles and herbs, and right before plating we add the pea shoots so they only lightly wilt.
3. Place the pork belly on top along with the soft poached egg and enjoy.