Why Cooking Your Carbonara in a Giant Parmesan Wheel is the Only Way to Live

16 November, 2018

Stretch Italian in Chatswood set off a communal drool when they decided to upstage competitors by tossing their carbonara in a 40kg wheel of Parmiggiano-Reggiano to cheese it up before serving.

Parmiggiano-Reggiano is a hard, granular cheese made from cow’s milk, it has a rich, sharp flavour. It’s aged for at least two years, which results in a firm and pale golden rind and a rich, complex flavour. You’ll see the letters D.O.P. stencilled onto the rind, which conveys that it is aged for at least 12 months and was produced in the areas of Bologna, Mantua, Modena or Parma (Stretch’s is from Parma). It takes a whopping 14 litres of milk for one kilo of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

So how does it work, exactly? At Stretch, steaming hot fettuccine pasta, bacon and pepper is tossed into the cheese wheel, where the server or chef mingles the noodles with the parmesan, all the while scraping the sides of the firm cow’s milk cheese to incorporate more of it into the dish. Then, once it’s cooled somewhat, two free-range egg yolks are dropped onto the pasta and stirred in, resulting in a creamy, yolky sauce. To serve, kitchen tweezers are used to plate up the now sufficiently sticky and cheese-coated strands.

This cheese bath for your pasta is happening all over the world. Over in New York and across the US, another cheese-wheel pasta gaining die-hard fans is cacio e pepe, which means “cheese and pepper”, made in a wheel of pecorino. The hot pasta is swirled around the wheel to collect cheese and the recipe is simple like the carbonara, requiring only a handful of ingredients.

At Stretch, the second you witness the pasta drop into the hollowed wheel, you’ll feel your hand involuntarily reach for your phone. Let it.

Stretch’s cheese wheel carbonara is $22 per person (min 2 people need to order the dish) .