During the industrial revolution, housewives of factory workers in northern Italy would gather outside the factories with little makeshift stoves. They would bring local food—usually a chunk of prosciutto or pancetta, cream, onions, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and garlic along with readily available herbs or vegetables. There, they would prepare lunch for their husbands and sons. The term carbonara (carbon) comes from the black soot that was emitted from the smokestacks, invariably falling into the pots of simmering cream. Soot, not being a major culinary contributor, has been replaced with coarse ground black pepper, which has a much better flavor.
This simple, yet very flavorful and rich recipe can easily be created using elk. Best of all, it can be made in less than 10 minutes.
sea salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tsp freshly minced garlic
1 large red onion, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart heavy cream
½ cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1 lb pasta—spaghetti or fettuccini
Fill a large pot with salted water and bring it to a boil. Stir in pasta and cook for 5-6 minutes or until ¾ done, al dente style. Remove from the water, drain and drizzle with a little olive oil, mixing well to coat and hold.
Heat a heavy gauge sauté pan or cast iron skillet with a little olive oil over a high heat. Season the diced elk meat with salt and pepper. Mix well. Add the meat to the hot pan and quickly sear on all sides. Once the meat is seared, but still rare, remove and set to the side.
In the same pan, turn heat to medium, sprinkle a little more olive oil if necessary and add the garlic. Lightly sauté until fragrant. Stir in the red onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Deglaze with the white wine, stirring as you go. When the wine is reduced, add the cream. Keep stirring to avoid burning the onions. Reduce the cream by half. Add the pasta and any other garnish you have. Toss until heated. Just before serving, add the diced elk back into the pasta, toss just to heat and adjust the seasonings. The diced elk should still be medium rare, juicy and tender.
Portion into plates or bowls and top with the grated cheese and a dusting of the black pepper (soot).
fresh or frozen peas
fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, etc.