Above: Risotta Carbonara thrilled Houston Chronicle food writer Alison Cook. Click photo for full-sized image.
When we sat down for our weekly chat last week, I asked Tony about the dish, pointing out that it’s not exactly what you would call “traditional Italian cuisine.”
He looked across the table at me, with that generous, paternal, and warm smile that can only come with nearly a half century of experience in the world of Italian food and wine.
“For Italian food to be authentic,” he said gently, “it must be a balance of the classic and the creative. That’s what the Risotto Carbonara is all about. Let’s try it together.”
The dish incorporates all the same elements of the classic Spaghetti alla Carbonara, using Carnaroli rice (or Vialone Nano, depending on the day) and all the ingredients of this famous dish from Rome: freshly grated Pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses, sautéed pancetta, and a fresh organic egg (locally raised, of course).
While many restaurateurs in Italy and Rome (where the dish is a sine qua non of the local cuisine) fold the egg (beaten) into the pasta (often tableside), Chef Grant opts instead for the more rustic gently poached egg used to top the dish just before it is served.
While the addition of freshly grated Pecorino is optional, Tony highly recommends it. I do, too! Buon appetito!
(Top Houston food blogger J.C. Reid authored a four-part, in-depth series of posts on the origins of Carbonara here.)