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A fun Chicken Carbonara recipe

Let's have FUN with this chicken carbonara recipe.

Many of the recipes I've come across for chicken carbonara are, yawn... oh, so boring, comprising some pieces of chicken breast meat mixed into a creamy sauce that is not even authentic carbonara.

Some are atrocious. Imagine a so-called chicken carbonara recipe made with Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup as the "pasta sauce".

I am all for convenience and easy preparation. Hey, this website is called EASY Pasta Recipes! But is it all that troublesome to mix together some butter and grated cheese to make something close to the real carbonara sauce?

Even if you cannot get Pecorino Romano, the Italian cheese originally used for carbonara, you still won't be far off if you use parmesan or any other hard, salty Italian cheese. Even if you use American or English hard cheese, something common like cheddar, you are still somewhat close.

So it's not that I am the fuddy duddy sort who likes to stick to rules. True, I have featured the authentic pasta carbonara recipe, the original Fettuccine Alfredo and other authentic Italian pasta dishes. But that's only because I feel that the real versions taste better - and they are not hard to prepare anyway.

I encourage creativity and innovation - as you can see from my many Asian pasta dishes, such as the Filipino pasta with itlog na maalat (salted eggs), the Southeast Asian chilli squid pasta with petai beans, or the Japanese pasta with natto and nori seaweed sauce.


What I disagree with, however, is when people bastardize a recipe to the point where anything goes. The result is that lots of people end up not knowing what a true Carbonara sauce is. To them, anything creamy is a "Carbonara recipe". And when some of these people open Italian diners and restaurants, they spread the ignorance.

Apart from the adulteration, my other disappointment is that, as mentioned earlier, many of the recipes that I came across are outright boring. So I shall not present a chicken carbonara recipe that has just pieces of chicken added to a carbonara sauce. I've already mentioned that in my original pasta carbonara recipe.

So here, I've decided to have some fun.

I thought about what goes well with chicken... Cashew nuts! That was the first thing that came to mind. Chicken with cashew nuts is a popular Chinese dish. If you cannot get cashews, other types of nuts go well with chicken too. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios... or for something more luxurious, how about macademia nuts?

Next, I figured it would be nice to have some crunchy vegetables. Like celery. Or french beans. Or, if you live in the tropics, some long beans (cut short).

For color, how about some red bell peppers? I was even thinking of Chinese wolfberry, also known as goji berry or keichi. This, too, is commonly cooked with chicken. If you can't find this in your supermarket, try the health stores as Chinese wolfberry is reputed to be healthy. Among other things, it is said to improve eyesight.

The idea is this: Stick to the real Carbonara for the base pasta sauce. Other ingredients, like chicken, nuts and vegetables, are mere add-ons and can be substituted freely.

Just one final piece of advice. Even while having fun, exercise restraint and try not to have too many ingredients in a dish. Three to five would be just about right. Too many and your dish ends up being chaotic. Here, then, are my suggestions for...

A FUN chicken carbonara recipe

Ingredients (serves 4 to 6):

  • 1 cup cashew nuts

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 slices streaky bacon (pork belly or side pork), coarsely cut
  • 4 pieces chicken thigh meat, cut into bite size pieces
  • 250 grams streaky bacon (pork belly or side pork)
  • 2 stalks celery, cut slanted along its length
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 8 pieces fresh mushroom (I used shiitake), sliced

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • I cup Pecorino Romano, grated
  • 4 egg yolks
  • black pepper - generous amounts

  • 500 grams pasta, cooked according to instructions.

  • Romaine lettuce and/or fresh herbs for serving and garnish.


  1. In a heavy pan, dry roast cashew nuts over medium heat until they just start to turn golden. Remove from heat immediately, as otherwise they burn quickly.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and fry the chicken pieces until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. In the same pan, fry bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add chicken, nuts and vegetables and fry over high heat until vegetables are just cooked but not soft, about 3 or 4 minutes.

  5. While pasta is cooking, mix together olive oil, cheese and egg yolks until they form a creamy sauce. Add generous amounts of black pepper. Important: have the sauce ready before the pasta is cooked.
  6. Once pasta is cooked, drain and quickly mix in the sauce, together with the chicken, bacon and vegatables. Heat up gently until the sauce just thickens. Do not use a big fire, otherwise the eggs will curdle.


  1. Although this is a chicken carbonara recipe, I've kept the bacon because it is part of the carbonara sauce. And it does add a nice flavour. However, I have reduced the amount, using it just for flavouring.
  2. Carbonara sauce can be prepared with either olive oil or butter. Here I use olive oil as I feel that it goes better with the chicken and vegetables.
  3. If unable to get Percorina Romano, use Parmiggiano Reggiano (Parmesan) or other hard, salty Italian cheese.
  4. Serve with fresh green vegetables, such as romaine lettuce, or garnish with Italian flat leaf parsley or coriander leaves.

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