Watch Chef Jamie Bissonnette for a fun and interactive guided cooking demonstration on pasta carbonara.
Bissonnette is the James Beard Award–winning chef and partner of Boston favorites Coppa, an Italian enoteca; Toro, a Barcelona-style tapas bar; and Little Donkey, Cambridge’s eclectic neighborhood restaurant. In fall 2013, Bissonnette and co-chef and partner Ken Oringer brought Toro to New York City and received rave reviews from outlets like The New York Times and New York Magazine. The Little Donkey concept was expanded to Bangkok in 2019.
Bissonnette is a winner of the Cochon555 nose-to-tail competition and received the inaugural People’s Choice: Best New Chef award from Food & Wine magazine. He was named the 2016 Massachusetts Executive Chef of the Year and honored with the 2014 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Northeast.
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Marc Montanari - Good afternoon, my name is Marc Montanari, I am the Deputy Regional Managing Director with First Republic Bank, and I want to thank you all thank you all for joining us today for our Savor Spring with chef Jamie Bissonnette. I have the pleasure today of telling you a little bit about chef Bissonnett. He's a James Beard award-winning chef and partner of Boston favorites restaurants, Coppa, and Italian restaurant, Toro, a Barcelona style tapestry bar, and the Little Donkey in Cambridge, Cambridge's electric neighborhood. In fall of 2013, Chef Bissonnette and co-chef partner Ken Oringer brought Toro to New York city, and received great reviews from outlets like the New York Times, the New York Magazine, and then they took the Little Donkey concept to Bangkok in 2019. Chef Bissonnett is a winner of the Cochon 555 nose-to-tail competition, which for those of you don't know what that is, it's a culinary event dedicated to supporting family farmers and educating buyers about the agricultural importance of eating heritage breed pigs, which are very tasty. He is the Best New Chef award from Food and Wine Magazine. He was named 2016 Massachusetts executive chef of the year and honored with the 2014 James Beard Foundation Award for best chef in the Northeast. So as you can tell, I butchered his introduction but he is an acclaimed chef, very handsome as well. Before we start though, a couple quick housekeeping notes. Throughout the presentation and cooking lesson, please feel free to submit questions during the demo. To submit a question, please use the Q and A icon at the bottom of the screen, and we will try to answer as many questions during the live demo as possible. Also, the event is being recorded and the replay will be posted on the First Republic website. So with that, I welcome chef Jamie Bissonnette, and chef, please take it away, and I apologize if I said anything incorrectly, but I know everyone will enjoy what you're about to cook tonight.
Jamie Bissonnette - Marc, I think you nailed it, man. If I tried to give myself an intro, I'd be like, Hey, my name is Jamie and I'm just going to make some pasta. So I think you did a much better job than I did. So thank you very much. I hope you guys are ready to cook some food. If you're following along, that's really great. If you decide follow along later, good luck to you but you should follow along now so you can ask the questions. We're going to make a pasta called pasta carbonara. We're going to do it with spaghetti. Typically this pasta should be made with dried noodles because it adheres to the sauce better and it has better texture. So if you're using a fresh, like homemade noodle with a carbonara sauce because the nature of the sauce it just becomes a little bit too gummy and gloopy, so it's one of the best uses of dried pasta. But today, I'm going to use the Checkup pasta, and it's one of my favorites to snag at the grocery store. It's available pretty much everywhere, and I'm doing the number 12 spaghetti which just means it's a little bit thicker. You don't want to use angel hair because it'll it'll kind of clump together with your . So the first thing to start for making pasta carbonara is you want to have all of your ingredients out, and you want to get your pasta water boiling. So I'm going to turn my pasta water on, and I'm not going to salt the water until after it comes to a boil. The reason, if I salt it now and it starts to reduce, it can get a little bit too salty and adversely affect the flavor of the dish at the end. So we've got our pasta water starting over here, when that comes up to a simmer, we'll season it. If you've been told to put olive oil in your pasta water, don't do that. It's just, it's a waste of money. In my opinion, it doesn't do anything except for float on the top, and when you dump it out, it just goes down the drain. So save yourself some headache.
If you've been doing that for years, you can stop right now. Please, don't put any more olive oil in your pasta water. And we're going to use a little bit of the pasta water to make the sauce. So that's why we don't want it to over reduce and get too salty. Next, we're going to start off with a nice heavy burning of the pot, and we're going to start it on medium to high heat. I love using lockers at home. I'll have any excuse to use it because I like that cast iron and enamel combination, so it holds the heat much better. If you're doing this on a stove that's not gas, and you've got an electric stove or induction, I would turn one of your electric burners on high and one of them on medium, that way you don't have to regulate your temperature. You can just slide your pan back and forth and you'll have the same kind of control that you would by modifying it on the actual range without having to have to waiting so you don't burn these. And we're going to start off with just a little bit amount of olive oil. If you don't eat pork or you don't like pancetta or bacon or whatever you want to use for this, you can totally just prep this off with olive oil or butter and it can get a little bit more of that richness. And we're going to use some really nice cured pancetta today. Oftentimes this dish is traditionally made with guanciale which is a pan, basically an Italian style beacon made from the jowl, so it's super fatty and really great flavored, salty and sour, from the fermentation process. I like pancetta. It's a little bit more readily available. I also sometimes at home just make it with bacon. So we're just going to kind of, using the length of the knife and I mean, whenever you cut at home, you don't want to just push through like, you see some people do that, you can hear it, I can, it just kind of pushes the meat apart and it's not good for it.
It's not good for you knife. You've got a knife that you bought that's this long, you might as well use the entire thing. So when you're going to cut, use long strokes, and you're going to have more accurate cuts. If as you're doing your long strokes, the knife is wobbling, reconsider how you hold it. You can hold your knife by putting your hand on the blade. So the part of your index finger is holding the top of the bolster and that'll give you more control so that when the knife moves around versus like this, you won't cut yourself, hopefully. I say that, I'm probably going to cut myself today while I'm doing this for you guys. That's just my kind of way. All right, so we've got about four ounces of the pancetta, so we're going to kind of cut it into kind of a small word on type thing, and we're going to throw it right into the pan. We're starting off with the pan kind of cold steel so it renders out some of the fat. The thing about rendering out fat in something like bacon or pancetta or even guanciale, is that if you start off too low and you let it go too slow, too low, you end up not ever getting that caramelization when you cook all the fat out of it, and the fat starts to get a little dark and bitter. So we're going to do this at a little bit higher of the heat. You can hear it kind of bubbling. As we're talking about the recipe today, I remember recipes is like, it's like being a musician. Just because Dave Brubeck wrote a song, doesn't mean Oscar Peterson can't make it his own. So the same with food and cooking. The first time you want to follow a recipe, you can follow it and you don't kind of follow this recipe exactly how I do it.
So the next time you can read that. If you want to use turkey bacon, if you don't like onions, if you want to add garlic to it, make it your own. And that's what the beauty of cooking is, just making food your own. So you can see the amount of bacon, pancetta starting in the bottom and as we let that cook we're going to do the knife work for the rest of the day. So I'm going to use just a generic Spanish onion, sometimes also called the yellow onion. I have to cut it in half before I peel it up, and for this, I want it to have a little bit of texture. I don't want it to be too small cuts. So what I like to do is cut it in half again across the equator if it was a globe, and then cut it more to the end. And again, using the entire length of your knife, you'll get nice cuts, it'll be better, more consistent, and if you've got an old room temperature onion, those are the things that are going to make you cry, and if you have an onion that's a little bit older and a dull knife, you're like you're setting yourself up for disaster, man. I can't stress this enough. A sharp knife will save all those tears so. And don't worry about being fast. That's one of the cool things about cooking. You should be able to kind of take your time and make it a meditative process. You don't need to be so like, get everything done. A lot of people, they feel like they need to rush. I always say, just take your time cooking and have fun with it. So the origin of carbonara is pretty unique. Some people always say that, it's definitely a dish from Rome, that got kind of named for the first time in the 1950s, but versions of it have been around for a long time. And one of the things that they say kind of gave it the name carbonara, Carbonari was a coal worker, a coal miner. And they say that because of all the black pepper in it, it kind of looks like it was dusted with coal.
A lot of people say that it was brought over by the GIs during the Second World War, because they were missing the proverbial bacon and eggs of an American breakfast. But all of those stories kind of came out well after the first kind of origin of the pasta. I'd like to believe that it's just a wicked delicious working person's pasta that was developed and it was the name kind of, it doesn't matter. So, I keep moving the pan around, because when you grill, as this piece of pancetta sits here and the temperature of the pot cools off underneath it, inherently in this part would be higher. So as you move it around more, you're going to get a more even cooked not only in the pan, but on the bacon. We're not going to add any salt to the pancetta yet because it is a pretty highly salted. And we can see now that our water is starting to come to a boil. So here, we're going to season it with salt, and as crazy as it sounds, I always tell the cooks and I always tell anybody cooking, you've gotta taste your pasta water because this could make or break a dish. If your water is super salty like the ocean, and a lot of people will say it needs to be as salty as it is in the ocean, I find that that can, the pasta absorbs it, and then if you use some of the water in your pasta sauce, you end up with just the salt on the sauce. So tasting it, making sure that it's what you wanted, I think it's so important. And then I'll turn it off, and I'll put the lid back on it because we're not ready to put the pasta in the water, and we'll turn it back on when we're ready to cook the noodles. So we can see that this is happening pretty quickly. The bacon is caramelizing, and I have a really bad habit of referring to all cured pork products when cooking as bacon so why is he calling it bacon, why is he calling it pancetta?
That is a really terrible public school system in rural Connecticut, combined with a dyslexic kid for ya. So it's not intentional, I just can't help it. Some people like to get their bacon really dark, really crispy, and I think that's awesome. I really like that flavor, but if you keep it in there too long and it gets too dark it's definitely going to add a bitterness and a sourness, it won't be pleasing to eat it. Nobody wants to eat a pasta that's luscious and creamy with bits of super crispy almost burnt in pieces of food. Another thing to keep in mind is as you're cooking, I always encourage people to turn the pan and look at it, and that also is going to prevent any hotspots if you're cooking on gas or if you're cooking outside on a grill or whatever. So as it's cooking I'm going to add a little bit of black pepper, this will make it taste really good. If you go to the mall, when you're allowed to go to the mall again, or feel comfortable going to the mall, this brand of pepper grinder, I don't know if you can see it we have terrible lighting here, in the right-hand side, you can click on top. I can, they don't even give me one for free or anything, I'm not endorsed by them. I wish I was, but they're awesome. They're so user friendly and easy to fill because if the top ones don't have the black pepper on the ground and the dogs and the black pepper, and it's not good for anybody. So here, I'm starting to get that carmelization on the pancetta. I'm going to pull some of it out and leave some of it in. And the reason for that is I want to add some of these back a little bit later on to give it some sugarness, but I also want to leave some of it in to cook with the onions to give it a little bit more crispiness. So what that does is it gives you two different kinds of textures, which I find to be interesting. The one thing that I always say about being a cook is when you want to set yourself apart, and somebody gives you the same three ingredients, the only way you're going to do that is with technique. So we'll leave a little bit in to keep going, and we're going to add our onions.
Sophia Smith - Chef, could you please show the pepper, could you please show the pepper grinder brand again? People are very interested to see that brand.
Jamie - Definitely, it's K-U-H-N R-I-K-O-N. It's a Swiss company. I got this at . So soon as we add the onions, I want to move it around and get all of that fat to cover the onions, and at the same time we're going to salt them. I can, also, one of the things that I try to teach people when they're cooking is that you don't want to just salt once or twice throughout your cooking, you want to salt in stages because salt reacts with things differently. If you've ever made a plant Parmesan and salt right that could pull out the moisture, that happens at all temperatures. So adding the salt to the onions now close out some of the onion moisture, which is as a cooks, gives it a little bit more sweetness, more onion flavor, and break the onions down even a little bit quicker. Another trick, and why I love using lacazette is putting a lid on top is called sweating. So as it's cooking at a medium to medium low heat now, it's cooking pretty well. All of the steam that's coming off of the onions from mixing that salt in with it, is going to cling to the top of the pot, and it's going to drip back down like sweat. So it's called sweating. So also kind of salty. So maybe that's kind of gross, but it was something that I learned in culinary school. I might want to revisit how I explained that. And that is going to make the onions sweeter without giving them a dark caramelization. And for me, I just, I love caramelized onions, but not in everything. I like the more nuanced flavor of onions, especially in a pasta like this. So, as this is cooking for a little bit, we can take some time to think about the rest of the dish and what needs to happen. So I always like my Parmesan ground and grated, because a lot of places, even Whole Foods or Formaggio, if you live in Boston, they get cheese that's grated on a special machine that's made for Parmesan or for Pecorino that grinds it in a way that makes it super light and easily incorporated. Otherwise, if you're trying to grate it at home, you get a nice big block of cheese.
That's also awesome, but I don't love that for pasta because it doesn't incorporate as well. You end up with chunks, and for me that that's a little bit, I don't know, it's a little bit too rusty, I suppose. So if you are grating your cheese, I would do that now. Make sure that your butter is diced. I like to have my eggs for the sauce out in tempering because I think that a warmer or room temperature egg yolk is better for the pasta. I don't know if you guys can hear what I hear, and that's like a splattering, so I'm going to lift this up and what I'm hearing I love saying this, cooking is not just something that you do with your mouth and your eyes and your hands, you also have to use your ears. You can hear when things are bubbling, when things are burning, and right now I can hear the moisture dropping off of the lid, back into the pot and bubbling, but it sounds very sharp, like a, almost like somebody's hitting a high hat of a drum set, and that to me signifies that maybe it's too hot and it might be starting to just stick or burn. So we'll just take a quick look. And you can see all that moisture that drips off the top of the pot, and I was right. It's starting to get a little bit too caramelized right here for me, so I'm just going to move it around. Let's see onions breakdown, and what we can also do is add a splash of water. And what that water will do is it will bring all of that fond or that caramelization off the bottom. Because we're sweating it, it doesn't evaporate and that'll continue to help prevent the bottom from sticking so you don't hear those tight pops of fat and liquid mixing together. So back to our eggs. We're not going to separate them quite yet because the yolks, if you separate them too early, will develop a skin, but we do want to let them sit out. We're going to use frozen peas today. And this is one of those things, I always stand behind it because there's so many companies now that shuck their peas and freeze them on machines in the field that it's as a chef, I used to love. I grew up working in a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut, called Bricco, where I actually learned how to make Billy Grant's famous mama's carbonara, which was his grandmother's recipe.
I never got to meet nana but I definitely took the recipe for carbonara and I'm actually teaching it to you guys today with my little twists and turns on it. And we used to get some great peas. We would get them from Jersey, Connecticut, we'd get them from fall to mid to late spring and summer long. And something happened the last 10 years, and the peas have been more starchy and bitter and not as nice. And what I've learned is that because it's so hard to farm, a lot of the people who farm them well are doing the IQF and freezing them. So getting peas that are frozen, you're probably going to get it from a quality brand. You're going to get peas that were picked, shucked, and frozen within minutes of coming off of the vines that are more ripe and sweet and better texture than the fresh English peas. So unless you're going to eat them raw or cold as a salad, I always have frozen peas in the freezer. Next, before I started, I pulled out some nice butter and diced it. I always cook with unsalted butter, and season with kosher salt in my dishes and sea salt on my meat because I like to control my salt more. Different kinds of butter, different brands of butter, if you buy butter at a farmer's market, for instance, if it's salted, there's going to be different kinds of salt and different levels of salt. This way I can control the flavor a little bit more. We're going to garnish our carbonara with a little bit of scallions. So the next thing I want to do is just kind of clean and cut some scallions while those onions cook. So scallions to me are a vegetable that are so versatile. You can use them in a lot of different cuisines. They're super fresh and bright when you eat the green part, but they're also super oniony, if you'll eat the bottom part. So if you've ever had like a stir fry or made a stir fry, I find that the bottom parts are better in the stir fry in the beginning, and then the top parts are better at the end. Same with a dish like paella, where I cut the bottoms big, and cook them slowly to break down, and then garnish the top with the herbs, the top of the herbs to give it a little bit more brightness.
And the key to cooking for me is using lots of herbs because it lightens up the palette, helps with your digestion, helps you feel a little bit less full as you're eating. So you can eat a little bit more, which is awesome. That's how you get a body like mine. And it makes the food more interesting. It kind of like helps the flavors mingle better. So if you've ever cook at home and you don't use a lot of herbs, I'd say just buy some scallions, throw them into a couple of things, even if it's a pasta with tomato sauce out of a jar, adding a little bit of scallions is that one thing that just might make it a little bit nicer. So we're going to take the scallion, we peeled off a little bit of the outside. I'll do that again in case you weren't watching. So you can see the bottom part is starting to wilt, so we're just going to peel that off. Now, this top piece is kind of yellowing and gray and you can see a little brown, so I'm not going to use it. I'm going to throw that away. And then the bottom of them, of it, where the it hits the root, I'm going to cut off as close to the root as possible and throw that away. Now we have the white, I refer to this in recipes as the white and the green, and you can see where it kind of starts to split. That's where the flavor change really happens and that's because up here is more hollow and has a little bit more chlorophyll happening, down here doesn't get as much sunlight, so it has more of that true onion or like root flavor. So we'll cut this a little bit bigger, and we'll save those for a little bit, we'll add them into the pasta dish. And then we'll take, as we get to the tops, we'll save those and we'll slice them a little bit thinner and we'll use that as a garnish. And what that does is like we said, it'll give you two different levels of flavor.
So you're using one ingredient to help get a little bit more flavor out of something. The key to that is if I can use one cheap ingredient like this to get a little bit more flavor out of a dish, chef Billy Grant does, and charge $17 for, or at least he did back in 1997, I can now charge $25 for it because it's just a little bit more flavorful. And if anybody knows Billy Grant, please tell him I said that and thank you for the recipe. I really hope somebody's going to tell him that. So yeah, looking back now at our onions, they are starting to break down and I want to taste it. So, I should take some of the onions out, they're still a little bit too crunchy, so I'll put the lid back on and let them dope, but now we can start adding some of the scallions.
Sophia- Hey, chef, I have a couple of questions too. What is your favorite brand of olive oil and favorite brand of knife?
Jamie - Okay, I love and hate this question. My favorite brand of knife is for me an MKS knife. And this is made by Adam Simha in Cambridge, Mass. They're all hand forged, he makes interesting handles, they're phenomenal knives. He works really well for custom things so they're weighted perfectly for my hand to my specifications, but they're wicked expensive. So, and it takes sometimes a year or two to be on the list because he makes them all by hand. If not, go to a store and pick up some knives and play around with them. Ask them if you can pretend to cut and hold them. You want to have something that fits, that has a nice ergonomic to it, so your hand doesn't cramp, it has a good weight. I personally for a whole knife that's not handmade, custom, fancy, I love Shuns. The Shuns knives are really great. Mac knives are good. Some of the global knives are good for things, but the general chef's knife is not my favorite. I don't like the handle and the way it feels. And then my favorite olive oil, I mean, I've got five olive oils sitting out right now. I have a Spanish extra-virgin olive oil called Espane that I got at Formaggio, and I use that when I cook top us, because I like the sharpness of it and the black pepper notes. This Clementine one is imported through our friend Tony Mellie, head of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He's a high school teacher who's really an organic food and Italian heritage. So he gets this from his family and family friends and imports it very year. I don't know that he has sells at retail anywhere, but if you can see it, I think you could probably Google it, it's pretty awesome. It's called Olio, Denelli is the importer, O-L-I-O-D-E-N-E_L-l-I, and they're at 11 Division Road in Westport, Mass.
This olive oil is a great utility olive oil because it's a single varietal. This one, I believe does it say we go through different ones when we get them from him throughout the year, and it's really mellow. It doesn't have too much of that green open tennis can flavor that some olive oils can have, but it's also not thin or bitter like a pompous olive oil or a second press olive oil. So I would say go to a store, buy a bunch of olive oils, cook with them in different ways. I've got an olive oil that I like to cook with, I have one that I like to finish with, I have that I use for salad dressings only, I have one that I use only for cooking Spanish food, so you really have to kind of taste them and figure out what kind of profile you want out of your olive oil. Isn't that awesome? How I just talked for five minutes about olive oil and it didn't answer your question.
Sophia - No, that definitely answered it. We have another question. Do you prefer olive oil over grapeseed oil for sauteing?
Jamie - Now, this is a great question, and I really enjoy debating this with a lot of other chef friends. So, it's been said many times that cooking with something like you're going to saute at a high heat, you want to use a oil that's less complicated, that has less canons, and it's not as viscous because like olive oil has a much lower smoking point and can get bitter easier. But if I'm making a paella, even though it's hot as hell on that fire in that pan, you also have to remember you're using so much of that olive oil, and you're cooking with such little liquid to rice, that it's going to emulsify into it. So if you use grape seed oil or canola oil making a dish like paella, it's going to break and snap and you're going to end up with a greasiness to it, whereas the olive oil emulsifies in and even if it does break and snap, it has a more lusciousness and a better flavor to it. If you're going to fry something, I always say fry in canola oil, fry in grape seed oil, whichever one you prefer, you can afford, because grape seed oil is substantially more expensive usually, and then drizzle olive oil over the top if you want that flavor. But it also comes down to personal taste. You need to really experiment with cooking. It's like asking if you would ask Chick Corea what his favorite brand of instrument play was, his answer may have been different for different things that he was playing. So, I look at the kind of generic questions that is a little bit more nuanced these days. When I was younger I would've said don't ever fry in olive oil. It's really bad, it's gross, it's a waste of a good product, but some people swear by it. So if you do that and you like the flavor, I say go for it. Just don't put it in your pasta water.
That's just not good. All right, so now we're looking down and we can see that some of this pancetta is starting to get even crispy, and flavoring those onions. I think it's . Turn the pasta water back on and get ready to start thinking about cooking our noodles. I'm taking the lid off of the pasta water so I can see when it boils. Sometimes, especially when I'm having a glass of wine after I've done all this work and seasoned my pasta water and turned it off, I turn it back on and walk away, and I wait five minutes, and it reduces too much, and I don't taste it again because I've had three glasses of wine and then I ruined my meal. So don't do what I do when I'm not being filmed, and do what I preach. Pay attention to what you're doing. So for the garnish scallions, you want to make sure again that your knife is super sharp. I'm going to use a steel really quickly on my knife just to get an edge back. I love showing people how I use the steel because a lot of people I think use them in a scary way, like towards their hand really fast. That's what this is for, and if you see that a lot of chefs have notches in here because it gets that. That's a really bad habit to start. So when you think about how a knife is, there's all these little pieces of it that make it sharp and the deli is the pieces going kind of breaking down, right? So when you hone them, you're kind of trying to align those pieces, first on a stone, and then when you are using it regularly, you need to do it on a honing steel. So going toward yourself, super scary. If you want to go that direction, I would say pull it this way, and just do it gently. Speed does not make your knife sharper, and pushing harder does not make your knife sharper, because all it does is go instead of straight, it makes one of them this way, and one go this way and then that way then that way, and it actually over time if somebody go. You end up making your knife even dull. Another way that I like for really refined cutting, is I'll drag it this way, and that pulls all of those microscopic pieces of metal forward to make it sharp.
The problem with that is if you're using a high carbon steel knife, something that's softer, that only keeps it sharp that way for a shorter amount of time. So yeah. Then afterwards you want to make sure that you kind of look. This is pretty good. Then you wipe your knife down with a towel. And the reason is that you have a little bit of metal shavings on there and that'll end up on the food and we don't want that. Great.
Sophia - Chef, what do you think about duck fat for cooking?
Jamie - I have duck fat in the fridge right now. Duck fat's awesome. It's got great flavor, it adds, it adds texture to things, it makes things super crispy for sure. So instead of peanut oil if you're a vegetarian and you don't want to use animal fat, I think it's been past it. It's great for using the volume to cook potatoes to absorb it, it absorbs it very well. It also renders at a much lower temperature, meaning if you put it into a pan it'll start to get more liquidy quicker. So if you're making a dish that you're not going to be serving really hot, like fried potatoes, if you're going to put something in like say beside the poach and the potato salad at room temperature or when you're eating a potato salad cold, as you're eating it, it's going to kind of render on your mouth and give you a little bit of like nastiness, I don't know. It's kind of gross. If you try to swap it out for things like pie dough or a pupusa dough, it renders out. It doesn't bind as well. So it's a great cooking oil but you can't just swap it out blindly. So to cut the scallions, we're going to use again the whole length of the knife. You'll see curves just like blowing away at things and really cutting these so they know what they're doing. If you look at the cutting board and you see that there's green on their cutting board, that means they don't know what they're doing. That means that you're bruising the herb and you're knocking the chlorophyll out of it and you're putting the flavor of it on your cutting board and not in the food, which is not what you want. So if you're not used to cutting herbs properly, get your knife sharp and then drag it backwards like this. And what that does is it slices without adding the pressure and hurting it.
And you're like, wow, that takes, it looks really pretty, but it takes a really long time, so you want to go back into this. But now you see that I'm only using that much of my blade. So doing that over years, you're going to end up and I'm sure at least one person watching this is going to go, "Sure, I've done that." You end up with a knife that has a little bit of a dip here because that's the part that you use, and this part that you don't ever use is too high up. So when you put your knife on a cutting board, there's a gap and it no longer cuts through. If you start by doing that, I call it backstroke, that will never happen to your knife, and it's much better for use. Another thing I always try to get cooks to use is a pastry scraper, so you can move things on your cutting board into piles rather than sliding your knife over it. I think we were talking about how the tip of the blade is, how by dragging it back and forth, all you're doing is dulling your knife beyond repair. All right, I'm going to add a little bit of water now again, just to keep this from burning, and I'm going to give it another taste. It's starting to taste really good. It tastes like pancetta and onions and olive oil and pepper, and that's all the things that are in it, so that's a good sign. We're going to keep adding a lot more pepper now, and we add crashed pepper because when you crack pepper fresh, the oils can have it. If you buy pepper that's already pre cracked and you crack a ton of it for the month or for the week at your house, all those volumes kind of dry out and you end up with not having a great flavor. And also oil is one of the most absorbent foodstuffs in the world.
Alcohol and oil will pick up other flavors. So if you crack all your pepper, if you throw it in your cupboard and your cupboard has a little bit of a cupboard smell or mocking it still, your pepper will pick that up and it will taste gross. So olive oil you can put in cupboards and spices you should do fresh.
Sophia - Chef, I think we went over this possibly, but we had a question about if there's another type of meat that I could ue instead of a pork product, what would you recommend
Jamie - For carbonara I a lot of times will make it with duck ham or duck prosciutto. You could make it with duck confit but I would add it towards the end and make sure that the duck's already warm, don't try to warm it up in the pan, for exactly what we were talking about with the duck fat. If you're vegetarian, you could also use a very very hard smoked cheese and dice it and fold that in towards the end. For texture, chickpeas are awesome in something like this as well as we've used bottarga which is a ham made from cured mullet roe. You could also use tuna frozen just make sure I get all of the grease out of the can. If it's oil packed and quality bumblebee or something or something like that, and that'll add a nice saltiness and a balance as well. Turkey bacon, a lot of people like turkey bacon. I love turkey, but I hate turkey bacon so I don't usually tell people to use that. I would say, just throw some turkey and you'll end up with something pretty awesome. All right. So, I took the entire can of pasta because I'm a fat guy. I love, I just love pasta. I think it's so much fun to eat, so satisfying. If you cook all the pasta on your bass and then you realize after it's expanded that it's too much, don't make carbonara and think that you're going to have something that you can heat up as a leftover variable, because the egg and how we're going to add it and do it like a liaison at the end in it, trying to warm it up again basically turns it into a scrambled egg. It's like Italian . It's just not good. So as you, if you do that, pull it out and just coat it in some oil. There, I would definitely do some olive oil.
Cool it in a very, very flat, shallow container and then use that pasta and you could warm it again if you want in the water before you make carbonara or you can add something else, but try not to make a ton of carbonara and have leftovers of it because it doesn't well at all. I'm going to add a little bit of butter now to the pan. We didn't add it before because we didn't want it to brown, but what the butter is going to do now is it's going to help equalize the temperature as it melts, help bring up the bond and any other flavors. And, I mean, this smell of animal fat, bacon, and sorry, animal fat, butter, and onions together it's going to make the people at your house happy. Cooking isn't just about the finished dish. It's about how you make everybody around you feel, whether it's in a restaurant, maybe it's the ambience or it's somebody at your house and kind of make the house smell. I think it's really good. I'm going to turn the heat up a little bit to help that butter frost, then we're going to add our pasta to the boiling water. We're going to use tongs. So I don't use tongs very often. I don't like the way they handle it. I think that people use them a little bit too often and too aggressively, but for pasta I think it's perfect. And I'm just going to kind of move it around and make sure that the pasta is not sticking together. And for spaghetti, I usually set a timer for eight minutes, and then monitor to see how the noodles feel after. Even if it's the same pasta brand that I've used 1,000 times, I still use a timer and set it. Even at the restaurant, we use a timer for our dried pastas, because you do have a small window of keeping the pasta al dente or just a little toothsome, and having it completely overcooked.
And this kind of pasta in this dish over cooked it's really unpleasant because the nuance of the egg, it turns it into something that's kind of like really bad, really bad like mashed potatoes. So I put the lid back on the pasta just to bring it back to a boil quickly because pasta cooks best in boiling water and keeping it hot and boiling will make it cook evenly, stirring it so it doesn't clump. If you put the pasta in and you walk away from it, and I'm sure somebody has done this, and you don't put a lid on it, you don't bring it back to a simmer, and you come back and even five minutes, two minutes, and you go to stir it and you've got this complete clump of pasta in the middle with the kind of ends coming out or if it's a different shape, it kind of sticks and burns to the bottom of the pan. You can not, in my opinion, you can not stir pasta too much, dried pasta. Fresh pasta you certainly do. So now we've got a little bit of time so we're going to start cracking and separating our eggs. So one very important thing, when you go to crack eggs, have trash receptacle, have where you want your whites and where you want your yolks beforehand. Otherwise you end up doing the crack, where do I put something, where's the garbage, and you're walking around with things dripping. Second, this is bad. You want to crack an egg on a flat surface. Put it over and you can see where the crack is and that's when you can pull the shell apart, leaving the egg yolk on one side and pulling the white off the yolk. The reason for that is for these eggs we got our farm eggs that we use at the restaurant. Super awesome, really great, but eggs have bacteria, and all that bacteria, salmonella type things, that's on the shell.
So when you break an egg on something, on an edge, you push those sharp pieces of shell inside that could puncture the yolk which you don't want to do. Puncturing an egg yolk is not a good idea. Even for this though, it's going to get mixed in. We want to leave the egg yolk whole until it starts to help thicken things. So we get all of it out. If you break it in here, then half the yolk is going to stick to the mannequin. And if you do what I just did and crack it on a tray, don't be afraid to use your hands, but still don't crack it on the side. The restaurants, we almost always crack on like this. You see people doing that, not me in my restaurants. You seen people doing that. The problem with that is that's where the shell could get stuck and go into the yolk, and if the shell gets into the yolk and you don't see it, it ends up in your food, especially something like carbonara where you're adding this at the end off the heat, you really are risking getting yourself and the people around you sick. And what happens when you get good poisoning at home is that you think, Oh my God, there's no way I got food poisoning at home, it must have been at Jamie's restaurant. And then you call me and you say, "Hey, I ate at your restaurant a couple of days ago and I had an al dente and I got food poisoning from it." And you go through all of it and you realize that probably wasn't from our restaurant, and it probably was from your home. And I can't write a Yelp review about you. You guys can write a Yelp review about me. So it's really unfair. Don't do that. Don't get yourself sick and think it's my fault. Crack your eggs properly.
Sophia - Chef, for the pasta, do you prefer a Bucatini or a Spaghetti, and would it be okay to use Bucatini?
Jamie - Bucatini is one of my favorite dried noodles to use. I write this recipe and I usually say bucatini in it and I actually may not have changed it to spaghetti when I sent it in, but there's been a bucatini shortage the last six months in America, and I have no idea why, but Bucatini has been increasingly hard to find. I love that. Bucatini is great. For those of you who don't know it, it's a little bit thicker of a spaghetti. Almost like if you took spaghetti times three, but then took one out one, one size out of it by pulling it up through the middle, because if you put them in your mouth, it's got a little hole through it. It's pretty awesome and it really clings to sauces well and has a really forgiving texture. There's a famous restaurant in Rome that does a carbonara with rigatoni, which is to some of my Italian friends would say sacrilegious. But I like it, I like it a lot. So there are some little rules that people have and even I probably contradict myself all the time in this regard, I'll say don't use fresh pasta with a carbonara, but then I'll also say, hey, there's no rules in cooking, do whatever you want. And listen to both. If you're going to use fresh pasta instead of dried pasta, think about why we talked about how I say it's not a good idea, though I say, it's you can't do it, never do it. It just, I'd say those things to invoke thought. So you don't just go into a recipe blind or modify a recipe blind. I want to set people up for success in their cooking. Any other questions? I like the questions, these are fun. I'm going to add a little bit more water.
Sophia - We have a bunch of questions. People love product recommendations. So do you have a favorite cutting board and also a favorite tong?
Jamie - I don't use a lot of tongs, but I, at home I love the ones that do this so I can put them in a drawer and not have to go like that when I grab things. So I would say, whichever ones you like, just that's really key and making sure that there's certain. I don't like tongs that have too much edge up here. This one has a nice, like we did this to it or almost cerated, but some of them can be curved over. I find those to be a little bit too hard to work with because they can damage the food when you're cooking with it. What was the other question?
Sophia - What is your favorite cutting board brand?
Jamie - I love Boose Block. I love using Boose Block cutting boards. They're awesome but they're expensive. They're really great. If you get a knife, I love using wooden cutting boards at home, at the restaurants, We use more plastic because they're safer. I know at home that I'm going to use it and then wash it. In a restaurant, using a wood board to cut live chicken and then leaving in the dish area and the dishwasher is really busy and here she doesn't get to cleaning it for a little bit, and there's a crack, that's when you really could be setting yourself up for disaster. So when you see us at the restaurants, a lot of times we don't use wood, but at home I'm all about it I love it. And John Boose Block I think is the best one, definitely.
Sophia - Awesome, thanks. We'll probably get a question on it. So spelling test, could you please spell out the brand of the cutting board?
Jamie - Boose, B-O-O-S-E. John Boose, and then it's usually called gruesome Boose Block, and you can find them pretty readily everywhere. We have one about the size of this marble table, really twice the size of this at Coppa, and that's what we've used to stretch all of our pizza dough on. They're really, really excellent boards and the idea that you need to take such good care of them by not putting them in the dishwasher absolutely, putting them in the dishwasher that kind of heat, water, temperature, and pressure can create cracks and you definitely want to put them, clean them by hand. If it starts to get, sometimes cutting boards will have a little bit a film on them no matter how well you can scrub them, and what we do and I'll just show you right now, so we've got a couple of seconds, is you just want to cover a cutting board with salt, kosher salt like this, and let it sit in your sink for about an hour. And then let's say it was an hour. You then want to take your hand and gently rub it to get the salt to come off, and eventually there's no salt left on your board, and that salt helps absorb some of the moisture in the grains. It helps sanitize it because it kills a lot of the bacteria and it pulls out that layer of film. And if you do that every time you clean your woodcutting board at home, your wood board is going to last you a very long time.
Sophia - Another question, chef, is it possible to show us the onions and pancetta and what it looks like right now before you add the pasta? I know they're probably warm.
Jamie - So right now we've got that bubbling amalgam of olive oil, pork fat, and butter, with the scallions and onions, and it's starting to get a little bit dark from the black pepper. Smells pretty remarkable. Is that good? Can you see it now?
Sophia - That's fantastic, thank you.
Jamie - Yeah.
Sophia - And what is your favorite sea salt?
Jamie - I love Straight Up Fleur de salt. Comes in a white container with a little bit of a lavender colored writing on it. I don't know that it's a brand, I think that might just be that particular branding. I also love, I hope it's still in here, Duxbury Saltworks, amazing salt. This one has herbs in it, but they also have just the straight sea salt, phenomenal and flaky. If I'm cooking vegetables and I want to put sea salt on it, I love using Maldon salt because of the way it's dried on the mask, so it has almost a pyramid shape and the crispiness to it, it's pretty awesome.
Sophia - Chef, have you ever used mineral oil for the cutting board instead of salt? What do you think about that?
Jamie - Yeah, I've seen people use mineral oil more to seal it after it's been cleaned. I would still, if you're using that, I personally would still use the salt. I like that method. And then using the mineral oil afterwards, if you'd like, but I would say like, would you rather lick your finger dipped in salt or mineral oil? That's why I use salt because I don't know. I don't know about the mineral. I'm not sold on it, but if you like it, go for it, but I'm not sold. So I'm going to take that ladle, and now I'm going to add about, probably about a cup of water, and now we're actually making our sauce as the noodles are almost done cooking. You can see in the pan, that's a pretty good amount of water, and that is what is going to be the base of our sauce. So it's going to be water with the egg yolks. That's what's going to make it stick together and get creamy. We'll add a little bit of butter and a little bit of cheese as well. And by a little bit of butter and a little bit of cheese, I mean a lot of butter and a lot of cheese because butter and cheese rule, but the sauce is mostly about the ingredients. So when I make carbonara, you could put out a colander and drain it. I am a much bigger fan of using the tongs to pull it in. That way, you get more of that pasta water when it's hot. I just, I don't know why. Maybe I just don't like cleaning colanders now that I think about it, but I almost never prefer to put it into a colander and I always prefer to scoop it out this way. We know that the pasta is pretty close to being cooked. I took a bite when we were talking, you probably can't see it on this camera, probably maybe, I don't know.
It's a little under, it's still a little bit raw. If I served you this pasta, you're going to say "Wow, that's a really nice al dente pasta." You would say, "Jamie doesn't know what he's doing. Why did he serve us this pasta?" So we're not going to serve it. So we wanted in here just finish cooking and absorb more of the flavor from this beautiful sauce that we're building in the bottom of this water. I'm going to let the pasta cook in here for not very long. I turned the heat up to high, and I'm basically just going to let it go until it starts to boil, which because if water was boiling and the pasta's hot should be relatively quickly, and that's going to start to flavor it. We're not stirring, that's going to continue to flavor. So now, we'll add a little bit of our frozen peas. We'll leave some of that on the floor for the dogs for later. Dogs can eat peas, right? I hope they can. And again, these peas are frozen. They've been sitting out on the counter for about an hour. They can still be right out of the freezer if you'd like. I would say let them sit out for a little bit. If you forgot to pull them out of the freezer, pull it taken out and just put them into a cup of warm water right out of the tap for about two minutes and that'll warm them up enough and you can add to the pasta and discard the water. Here we go. So if we look in here, you can see that all the ingredients are starting to really come together, but we want, I just want to see a lot more than that. And when I tasted that pasta a minute ago, I think it needs a little bit more salt. Another thing I think about when you're cooking is when you season, don't just go Emeril style like that like bam. It looks cool on TV. Emeril did that because they were filming so many shows and people were falling asleep in the studio, he did that to wake up the camera guy and the sound.
Passive use of loud seasoning. But just doing that at home, you risk having the salt all clumped together in one place. So if you salt evenly, so it falls like snow, then you don't end up with a salad, a stake, a burger, a chicken breast, a piece of tofu, that one bite tastes perfect, one bite tastes blunt and another bite might taste salty. Okay. So, there's almost no moisture left in the bottom of the pan, because the pasta has been absorbing it as it cooks, which is great. We're going to add just about two more ounces of that water, and that's just going to give you something to cling to. We're going to add in some butter. So the butter now is very soft. It's been sitting at room temperature, and as a reminder on the salted butter. Okay, that's good. And we'll stir to help the butter melt. Since the butter is unsalted, that can definitely affect the flavor. We'll give it another taste. It needs a little bit more salt and a little bit more pepper. We're going to add some of our scallions. We don't want to add all of them because we want to add some on the top after the dish is done. Again, that's so we can charge more money per year. That's a joke coming.
Sophia - And chef, what wine would you pair with this pasta dish?
Jamie - So, that's a question. I would say, I would like in carbonara, I want something a little bit lighter and refreshing. I love a sparkling Cher red Lambrusco. I could go with a Sauvignon blanc, you could even, this would even go great with the Spanish chipotle. I would stay away from any of the California being flavored kind of oaky type Chardonnays personally, but if that's what you like you can start again it's a cool thing, but this pasta it's so versatile. You could drink this with just regular traditional Italian red table wine out of a mason jar, or you can have it with a nice aged Barbaresco. See what I did? I just avoided answering the question again. I'm really good at this. So I'm going to kill the heat or turn the temperature down off, and we're going to add the egg yolks. My egg looks good, that's exactly what I was telling you guys to avoid. We're going to stir again the egg yolks, and be ready to add more of the pasta water if it starts to thicken to much. The steam right now is coming from those egg yolks that are just warming up in this because it's not boiling. So think of a hollandaise sauce with pancetta and onions and olive oil and butter, not just bartering this. You can see it's really coating it beautifully. I'm going to add in now some cheese. Now the cheese, I say add enough to give it a little bit of an interesting flavor and serve the rest of the cheese on the side, because if you add too much of the cheese now, and you can see how it already is starting it's starting to clump, it's starting to get too thick. We've got this beautiful free starching stock over here made of water, pasta and salt. We'll add more of that, but do not return it to the heat. Another reason why don't strain your pasta, pull it out so you still have a pot of hot water to help pull this sauce together.
When I learned this from Billy Grant, he used to always say, "Put it into a metal bowl or a glass bowl and mix it yourself." Which I encourage people to do at home. But if you own a nice Billy bottom pot like this, this is one less dish to wash. And there we go. Add a little bit more pepper, and put on a little bit more scallion, and now we have a lot of pancetta to put on top, and a little bit more cheese, and that's our pasta carbonara. I didn't burn myself so that was pretty good.
Marc - Chef, that was truly awesome. I'm very hungry now. Wish I had a kitchen where I am right now that I could have cooked along and I hope everyone did follow along and cook along. I think you and I have met in the past but that's for another day, but this is great.
Jamie - I think Rhino.
Marc - Yeah, and I don't know if you ever did anything at Babson. We did a chef thing at Babson and I think you were there once I looked up the the Cochon 555, I said I think I've heard this guy and this is awesome.
Jamie - I used to do that with Andrew and Gail.
Marc - Yeah, I want to say thank you on behalf of the bank. I hope all of those of you who joined in enjoyed this, I thoroughly did. And so again, thank you. I need to sign off, but it was tremendous and we really enjoyed this hour. I learned a few things and being Italian, I've always thrown the water out. So I'm very happy I watched the lesson tonight because I love pasta too, and I learned a lot tonight. So thank you very much for your time and really enjoyed it.
Jamie - Well, thanks for having me. It was a pleasure to be here and hopefully I get to see some of y'all in the restaurants sometime soon.
Marc - Absolutely, and be well, and hopefully you'll be back up and running very shortly and be packed like you always are.
Jamie - Thank you, we hope so too.
Marc - Take care.