Lightened Up Chicken Carbonara
A lightened up and low fat version of the classic Carbonara pasta dish, including tender chicken breast pieces with crispy bacon strips, so we can eat and enjoy with no guilt — ok, well maybe only half the guilt. But you get what I mean.
I’ve been asked a few times on Instagram to make a Carbonara. So this one has been in the making for a while. And I was just about to turn to evaporated milk, but honestly, I don’t like creamy sauces with that stuff. I just.don’t. It tastes too fake, and I like thick and heavy cream.
So how do I do this? How is this lightened up exactly? Well. No heavy cream. Not as much cheese. And hooray for no evaporated milk nor cornflour! Because I wanted the real deal.
Keeping with the Carbonara flavours, this pasta dish was insane.
As I contemplated exactly how does one lighten up carbonara, I remembered an olllllllld magazine article I read so long ago, like when I had braces and thought wearing my pants backwards was totally cool long ago….something about cream cheese in pasta.
But I couldn’t remember what?
So anyway, I pulled out some dusty old Italian cookbooks I have here, like 2 year old ones….held my breath and started creating something so beautiful and so creamy while trying to stick to my low in fat but still incr-edible rule, and this.just.kicked.my.ass.
Face-planting was easy. Because adding chicken into a pasta dish like this means fewer carbs consumed, while needing to unbutton a button or two of those backward pants. And whenever I order carbonara, I order it with chicken.
So I had to do what was right, and make it exactly how I like it. Just without the guilt that usually comes after.
And yes, if you’re worried about the eggs being all slimy and ‘raw,’ (like I was and became a complete eggy snob reading through the cookbooks) I can assure you that they cook perfectly through into such a perfect cream sauce with the heat of the chicken and bacon. Trust me.
Lightened Up Chicken Carbonara
- 375 g pack fresh pasta , (egg parpadelle or fettuccini)
- 250 g short cut bacon , cut into strips
- 700 g | 24oz chicken breast , cut into thick 2-inch strips
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 3 cloves fresh garlic , crushed or minced
- 1 x 250g tub/container reduced fat/fat free cream cheese (I used 5% fat), room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup reserved pasta water + 1/2 cup extra (just in case)
- Cook pasta following packet instructions for about 8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain pasta and return to the pot/pan, reserving 1 cup of water for later.
- While pasta is boiling, whisk cream cheese and eggs together in a large bowl until smooth and lump free. Add the parmesan and set aside.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add onions and bacon. Fry until bacon is crisp (about 6 minutes). Add the garlic and chicken, and cook until chicken is cooked through.
- Reduce heat and pour cream cheese/egg mixture into the pan while stirring quickly and gently to distribute evenly throughout the chicken. Continue to stir gently for a further minute while adding the reserved water (1/4 cup at a time) until sauce has cooked and thickened.
- Add the sauce into the pot of pasta, and toss gently until pasta is evenly coated. (Slowly add the extra water if necessary).