Recreating Rachael Ray’s Crab Carbonara from Taste | Reverse Engineering | Bon Appétit

Recreating Rachael Ray’s Crab Carbonara from Taste | Reverse Engineering | Bon Appétit

– Hi everyone, it’s Rhoda. And I’m here for a secret conversation about Chris Morocco. Once again, we are going to put Chris’s supertaster abilities to the test. This is Rachael Ray’s Crabonara. We’re challenging Chris to replicate this exact dish, every ingredient, in just one day.

He’ll be able to taste it, touch it, smell it, but at no point will he be allowed to see this dish. Because he only has one day, we’re going to give him three lifelines. But there’s a catch. Using them will dock points off his final score.

At the end of the day, we’ll come back to see his final creation and I’ll be the judge. – All right. I’m so confused about what this is. This somehow smells exactly like my grandmother’s braciole.

There’s something herbaceous happening. Maybe it’s that it’s giving me like that parsley. I’m also getting like a sharp kind of like cheesy smell. Okay, didn’t know what that was, that’s good. A little bit of zip to this, a little bit of heat.

That tasted like a little bit of meat with a, with a definite squidge factor. Yeah, tastes like a cured pork product. – Have we been down this cured pork road before? – Absolutely leaning towards the guanciale there.

I don’t like pancetta. Sometimes, and sometimes. – Oh come on, stick to the gut. – We certainly have, and I can’t even remember what the right answer was in the end. Is that pancetta? – Yes. – Bobby’s not following the rules here.

It didn’t taste super smoky or anything. Like it felt more like a pancetta but like really fatty. Also then like, what is this? Tastes like lobster. The fact that I’ve only gotten very modest-sized pieces of this and it’s kind of sweet, a touch saline, but very like clean, makes me feel like maybe it’s more crab.

And then there seemed to be some corn in there. Okay, pasta. It’s kind of a creamy sauce. We have the aggressive bite of some parsley so I was justified in thinking that was partially in here. I guess the cheese could just be parm.

It puts me in the world of a carbonara. I’m going to assume that there has to be some onion. Could be a splash of actual cream. Could it have like an egg yolk? So far we’ve got allium, let’s assume that it’s onion.

Pancetta, although it could be our old friend guanciale. Probable crab. I’ve got heat of some sort. Could be an aggressive amount of black pepper. I’m not getting like tons of chili, like pieces of identifiable green chili.

I just don’t have any idea what you would call this dish or who would have made it. Jamie Oliver’s Insanity Pasta. Okay, so let’s work from the ground up. Butter, EVOO, crab, pancetta, guanciale. I’m saying onion, but no garlic.

Corn, spaghetti, black pepper, chili flake, Parmesan, heavy cream. Is that Jude? – Yeah, is that coming through? – All right, so this is my list of ingredients. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to add ingredients later on unless our culinary production team happens to have them.

They’re going to go out and get this stuff and then I’m going to have my first crack at this. So let’s just start by cutting some onion and having a bit of a chat. It all starts to go wrong when you don’t really know a possible name for the dish.

This presumably has to be, has to have a name with some sort of recognition factor, right? So this is just some corn on the cob, just cutting the kernels off. Corn and crab, like that’s pretty classic, right? It’s where like the crab and cheese intersect that things get a little bit murkier, right? Can I, can we like get real for a sec? I don’t think I’ve ever, never messed with king crab.

Like we’ve gotten it in the test kitchen but like Brad always deals with the crabs, you know? So I have blue crab and then I have some king crab. You know, king crab has a little bit more of that meaty, lobster-like intensity, but without being, but without being like, kind of as firm as lobster.

Okay, this is going well. Oh. I feel horrible about this process. I’m making a real pig’s ear of it. Let’s maybe cut up some of this guanciale, which is cured pork jowl.

Like funky, you know, and then pancetta, much milder. I feel like it’s pancetta this time. Pancetta is like Italian rolled bacon. Cured, but not smoked. The guanciale is pretty funky, but we’re going to do them side by side.

It’s going to be great. I whispered something into Brad’s ear, I think I recall, in that video. and like , you know? And somebody DM’d me to be like, “Chris, what were you saying to Brad?” It’s a little bit like finding out what Bill Murray told Scarlett Johansson at the end of “Lost in Translation”.

Gonna put some guanciale in there and some pancetta there. In either case, I think we’re on the right track. The pancetta and that slightly softer flavor, I think is kind of what I’m looking for here.

I already like how this is cooking up better. The guanciale already, it has still a little moisture left in it that it cooks out pretty readily. It is so intensely porky. All right, let’s see. We’re going pancetta.

Sorry, Brad. I know that was a different video but I think you’re still wrong. Right? Something like this? So I now have pancetta, onion, and corn. And then we’re going to drop some pasta.

The main other element that I want to add while we have some hot fat in there is our black pepper. I just want to make sure it kind of blooms out and toasts a bit in the fat. I’m not sure about the chili flake.

It wasn’t like the intense heat of chili. It felt much more like the kind of numbing, you know, more sort of like front of your mouth heat of black pepper. I will put in some crab right before the pasta goes in just cause I want to warm it through.

But I think like the elephant in the room is sort of how we’re going to make this pasta creamy. I’d say we’re heading in a positive direction. I think what we’re going to have to determine is like, are we looking at a carbonara situation where there’s egg yolk and cheese and pasta cooking water, or are we looking at, where it’s like cream and cheese? So I’m grating some parm.

Carbonara begs the question of whether we need pecorino or some kind of combination of parm and pecorino. Yeah, pasta went into the pan. I’m just getting some pasta cooking liquid in there, oops. And then we’re going to divide the pasta into three bowls, I think.

I just want to cook a little bit of like that sort of starchy pasta water in there. It’s just good pasta cooking practice and just really helps amalgamate all the flavors that are in there. Also, what I think we’re going to do is throw some parm right in here since I think I want parm in all three of these versions.

I just wanted to put a little more water in there to just kind of help like the parm sort of melt and incorporate into the sauce. Carbonara often uses some combination of like whole egg or, you know, but mostly yolk, and I just want to kind of do a little test.

Great, so pasta is nice and coated with that starchy kind of parmy kind of sauce. Then we’re going to divide it into a few bowls. So I have egg yolk in one bowl. I’m just going to mix it with a little bit of the sauce and then incorporate some pasta.

So that will be our version two here. Version one, maybe we’ll do some heavy cream. Version three, just for fun, we’ll do creme fraiche just because, you know, I sort of mentioned it and why not finish the thought? What’s throwing me off is that I have one white bowl and two glass bowls.

All right, and then just to confuse you further, even though I said I was going to put cream in bowl one, I’m actually going to put it in bowl three. Have fun with this one, editor. Just a splash. Creme fraiche is cultured cream sort of in the vein of like sour cream.

I don’t know, that aroma’s, like that yogurty aroma is like a dead giveaway though. Like that’s not what this smelled like, no ing way. This is our egg yolk. It doesn’t seem like it’s cheesy enough.

It’s just like the mind of like, would they possibly give me another carbonara? This is with heavy cream. They’re both pretty close. I’m really torn between the egg yolk and the heavy cream. I’m gonna start adding some of the other elements to the dish, like the crab, parsley, and then see what’s what.

This is egg yolk. The balance of flavors is there. Like I think we’re getting enough fat between the egg yolk and the cured meat. It’s not to say that something else couldn’t be there, but like the balance overall is really good.

I’m kind of leaning towards egg yolk. I’m going to go with the egg yolk for this first tasting. All right. So this is my first version of the dish. Chris’s creamy, crabby carbonara pasta.

This is the version with the egg yolk. I don’t have a fork, just for clarity. It needs to be tighter. It needs to be richer, thicker, creamier. More cheese, more egg yolk. Yeah, cause we’re not there yet but I think we’re on the right track just in terms of the flavor balance, sort of.

I’m giving myself 63s across the board. Cause if experience is any guide, I always somehow score myself too high at this stage of the game. So for ingredients, I’m going to give myself a 63. Taste, I’m also going to give myself a 63.

Technique, mm, 73. Appearance, I’ll give myself a 73 as well. That takes me to a D plus. God, it hurts to say that. 68 average, . Second tasting, here we go. Yeah, there’s just a whole other level of like cheesiness and richness.

Pecorino is going to deliver that kind of brute force intensity a little better than the Parmesan was in mine, which was a little bit softer, mellower, more buttery. It also backs up that like black pepper flavor and puts us more in the mode of carbonara.

Hold on. That was a scallion top, I believe, like just a little cross cut scallion top. It has that sort of telltale ring, you know? I sort of felt it like on the tongue. I went with onion. I’m thinking maybe we’ll switch that to scallion.

Hold on. I just got a piece of, was it green or red chili? That’s what I was looking for the whole time before. Like a chopped up chili pepper. Okay. Better late than never. During this tasting, I picked up some kind of fresh chili pepper, scallion, and I think we’re going to switch to pecorino.

So I feel like this was really productive, actually. I feel pretty good with like where I’m at right now. I have one more shot at making this dish before I have to present it to Rhoda. I didn’t feel like there was like raw green scallion tops but I did get that scallion in the mixture.

So yeah, I’m going to go with some scallion. Now I have no idea whether that was red chili or green chili. In my mind, green chili just makes more sense with this dish. Certainly a good bit hotter than the jalapeno.

This is like kind of like a personal preference thing. Do I want a red chili when I have like a green herb like parsley in a dish? It just starts to look a little, that’s just not how I roll, sorry. Brad and I kind of explored the differences between guanciale and pancetta in the context of Bobby Flay’s carbonara mac and cheese.

So I just want to see if I could grab him and just sort of talk this through a little bit. I’m gonna throw some questions at him. He hasn’t seen this dish, so, you know, it’s not really cheating. – Hello.

– Thank you, Brad. We have a similar situation. So I have like a pasta that’s like crab, some like, I believe chili pepper, maybe some scallion. – Baked? – No, it’s like fresh, like spaghetti, you know? But it’s like, I can’t figure out.

It’s creamy and it’s cheesy, you know? And I feel like once you’ve put cheese in with crab– – And what are you supposed to do? Figure out like whose dish this is? Chris, this is impossible. – It can’t be done, right? – No.

You tell Dan frig off this, all right? – Frig off. – He thinks fatherhood is hard? Try and recreating this, whatever this is. – Right. I feel like you and I ended up going with guanciale last time and it was totally wrong.

– They probably got some like real funky, like weird end of some like, in the bottom of some case or something that it was like, starting to get real gnarly and porky. – I guess my main thing is like, if you’re talking about pancetta, crab, scallion, fresh chili, are we talking carbonara? Should I be putting egg yolk in this or should I be putting cream? – You know, if Regis was like, “for a million dollars,” I would probably put cream, final answer.

– Really, . Okay, cool. All right, good. All right, buddy, thanks. All right. So Brad said it was cream, so we’re going with egg yolk. I’m going to stick with pancetta. I like the fat that it rendered out.

I guess you could put a drizzle of olive oil in. Little bit, okay? Build a little extra of that richness that I was kind of lacking before. I think we’re doing black pepper and green chili, just for what it’s worth.

All right, gave that a little head start. So corn is going in now. Black pepper, get it a little toasty. So crab is going in and I’m sticking with the king crab because we got it and frankly, it would be a shame not to use it.

Just going to get a little liquid in there. This is our egg yolk with some pasta water. And I threw some of the pecorino in there. You could fold the cheese directly into the, you know, the pasta itself.

Definitely like a whole different level of funk with that pecorino. I think we’re good. I’m going to the plate. I don’t know. It just looks a bit of a mess to me. I mean, that’s kinda like what I tasted, like all these flavors jammed up against each other, all these textures, you know, kind of right up against one another.

Okay. So for our ingredients, I’m gonna go with a 75 because I really am still not clear where all of the creaminess is coming from. This is obviously a longstanding issue and a weak point of mine. It’s just, you can taste creaminess, but it can come from so many different places.

Technique, I’ll say 80. There’s any number of different orders of operations here. In terms of appearance, I’m going to give it like an 85. This is the dish that I’m tasting in my mind. Taste-wise I feel like I’m like, I’m coming in at like 85%.

I think I’m like, I’m pretty close here. So that puts me apparently at an 81, which is a B minus. This is the one I’m going to be presenting to Rhoda. And we’ll see, I honestly, like all of these, I’m so fascinated to know who came up with this and what the name is, because I think the name will be so instructive in terms of how this dish might actually come together.

Hey Rhoda. – How was your day? – It was, it was all right. You know, I just kept coming back to this idea of like, could I possibly be given another riff on a carbonara? – The last time I saw you making carbonara, you left pretty defeated.

– It’s going to take me a little bit to kind of recover from this. When it’s like the final reveal, you know, you just feel like Chris Penn in “Best of the Best”, where, you know, they’ve done like the brick breaking at the end, and he’s just sitting there like kind of crying, like, “What are you even even counting ’em for, man?” – Chris, may I present to you, Rachael Ray’s Crabonara.

– Okay, okay. Not ing bad. – Yeah. Pretty close. So tell me, what were your alliums? – So I ended up going with scallion, just scallion. – Okay. – No garlic. – There was some garlic in there.

– – Just a touch. And technically there were scallion whites in the saute and scallion greens on top, but you know what? We’re not going to split scallions here, okay? – Okay. – You got the chili but you went green instead of red, you know, that’s fine.

Did you deglaze your pan with anything after you sauteed? – No. – So there was vermouth in there. I’m, I am like the king of putting unnecessary alcohol into dishes. – I know. – Is it, is it pecorino in this? – It’s parmesan and pecorino.

It’s equal parts. But if you’re following carbonara rules, you could kind of have one or the other, or both. So, you know, at least you didn’t throw anything random in there. – No, there was no like asadero cheese.

– So I know you you’ve picked up on the parsley. Any other herbs? – No. – Maybe something with a woody stem? – Thyme? – Thyme. And then there was also lemon. – What? – Zest and juice. – That’s a bummer.

Was it pancetta? – It was pancetta. Dan would like me to point out that you did not use the corn juice. – Oh yeah, my like, my January corn left unjuiced. – That concludes everything that you missed.

– Okay. – Where did you land on the sauce? – I ended up going just yolk. – Got it. – Was there butter or olive oil? – There was olive oil. – Did she use red and green chilies or just red? – Just red.

– I just tasted Rachael’s and now I’m trying mine. I could see there being lemon in here. – There’s one more thing in yours that wasn’t in Rachel’s. – Black pepper? – Yeah. – Yep. – Yeah, it was tricky to triangulate that heat.

Rachael’s is a little bit better. It’s like, between the corn juice, the vermouth, the lemon, that’s a little bit annoying that I didn’t get that brightness. And when I did have a version with a little bit of brightness, it was just so over the top that I just moved away from it.

– Okay. We’re going to go into scoring. For ingredients, you gave yourself a 75. I actually gave you a 78. – Okay. – Do you know what? You got the big things. For taste, you gave yourself 85.

I gave you an 80. – Okay. – Cause I figured you were probably missing that acid. I mean, I obviously can’t taste it but there were a couple other things there that I think probably made the dish taste a little different than Rachael’s.

– Yeah, that’s fair. – For technique, you gave yourself an 80. I gave you a 92. – Okay. I, but see I was, I’ve deliberately been more modest in my self scoring today. You’re not building yourself up? – No.

– Just to be knocked down? – No. Does Rachael temper her yolks with pasta water? – Yes. Did you? – Oh yeah. Okay, just making sure the score is validated. – Good, good. – All right, great. We’re good.

– And appearance. You gave yourself an 85, but I gave you a 95. – Appearance was even better than I had hoped. – So your overall score is an 86. – Okay! That’s like– – B plus! – So, ah, I probably would have called that a B, but if you want to call that a B plus, you go right ahead.

– I looked back at your Bobby Flay carbonara mac and cheese episode. You got an 85. – Okay. – You’ve taken a year and you’ve gotten one point better. – Oh my god. Yeah. I don’t, I don’t feel, I feel pretty good about this, to be honest.

– Job well done. – Thanks, Rhoda. – Great to see you. – Pleasure. All right, best to your fam. – All right, take care. – I think appearance-wise, this was great. I think I got most of the elements that actually have like physical form, which I’m happy about.

It was some of the elements that you purely had to taste, a few things that like I missed and that is deeply annoying, but I’ll take it. 86, I mean come on. Yeah, I feel good and yeah, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

I wish like stove manufacturers could just come to some kind of consensus about knob placement and what they control, right? Because I feel like it changes. Is that just me?