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Italian Recipes

Italian Recipes
Italian Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes
Dessert Recipes

Penne con Salsiccia e Funghi alla Carbonara (Really Good Penne/Sausage Carbonara)

My mother-in-law is my hero. There, I've said it. I have been wanting to say it for a while. She can't speak or read English. Maybe a kind relative in Italy who does will show her my blog and translate this post for her. She deserves to see this. How many daughters-in-law make the above claim? I know, it's highly unusual. You may even say it is rare to hear someone declare: My mother-in-law is my hero. Most women I know would like to strangle their mother-in-laws. I was one of those women (please don't show her this part, nice Italian relative). But then I decided to be less close minded and to embrace my pushy Italian mother-in-law. Here comes the part where I gush. She is amazing. Truly amazing. She has been cooking in a kitchen that is the size of most people's bathroom closet for the last 15 years. She has been cooking the most delicious, mouth watering recipes in a place I can't even enter to make toast. When we stay with them in the summer she cooks daily (twice daily) for about 7-17 people in this tiny space. She dashes in that magical space. She works at lightning speed. I swear she must have assistants hidden in there with her or she gets up in the middle of the night to prep. She spends the bare minimum on her products, but they are not lacking in quality and taste. She just knows how to look for deals and how to bargain and buy the best (an easy task in Italy). The fruit and vegetable guy drives by on Tuesdays and Saturdays and she buys cases of eggplant. Cases of tomatoes. Cherries. Peaches. For the best price ever. Vegetable guy can't ever say no to Teresa.

Then she dashes out of her piccola cucina and there is a feast. A simple feast. A complicated feast. You would never know. She doesn't break a sweat. She never complains. She is always smiling. Her heart is huge and she loves to cook for all of us. She is radiating passing the dishes around the table. She has a special closet where she stores all of her goodies. Her homemade pancetta, salame, prosciutto, ricotta, olives, stuffed peppers. Those goodies get passed around the table alongside the delectable meal. Her homemade Calabrese bread gets cut into perfect chunks. Oh, this is torture writing this post. God, I miss my mother-in-law. *sniffle*

Most daughters-in-laws would feel intimidated by such a culinary genius. I feel blessed to have her in my life. I have learned many priceless things with my talented suocera (mother-in-law in Italian)in the last ten years. I have learned how to make a delicious crostata. I now know how to make a rockin' peperonata. I can make zeppole. My brasato recipe is from her (I learned it on the phone with her). Lasagne. Bolognese sauce. All learned from Teresa. One thing I haven't mastered yet is her shrewd shopping skills. I am still learning how to be a more economical shopper. That is a skill that one day I may be lucky enough to aquire. She did teach me to be creative with what I have in cupboards, my freezer, my garden (yes, I have a small garden). Recently, I was craving pasta with sausage. Here is my what I came up with. *Warning: This dish is high in cholesterol. A little high in fat.

Penne con Salsiccia e Funghi alla Carbonara
serves approx 6 people

1 lb of penne pasta
2 shallots chopped finely
4 mild (or spicy)sausage links removed from casing and cut into chunks (I used organic mild sausage)
1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms (I used organic button mushrooms)
4 egg yolks lightly beaten (egg ratio is 1 egg per adult-Chef told me this)
3/4 cup of grated pecorino romano cheese
Oregano (I used my own Sicilian oregano.I used about 4 leaves)
salt/pepper to taste (I added very little salt as the cheese and sausage were salty

1.Saute' the shallots and mushrooms over medium heat in olive oil in a large skillet. 
2. Remove the sausage casings and lightly brown the sausage with the mushrooms and shallots. Stir frequently. Add the oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.  The sausage mixture should be cooked in about ten minutes.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the penne until they are al dente.
4. Add the beaten egg yolk to the sausage mixture. You could omit the egg part and this will no longer be a carbonara dish. It will still be super tasty!
4. If the sausage mixture is dry, you can add a ladle of the pasta water to the pan.
5. Drain the pasta and add it to the sausage mixture. Stir in the beaten egg yolks. The heat should be off on the stove because you don't want it to be scrambled eggs. I prefered my egg yolk cooked all the way through. No runny egg yolks for me.  Add the pecorino romano cheese and buon appetito!

Here is how my sausage and veggies looked when they were ready to add to the pan.

Cases of eggplants and tomatoes she bought from the veggie guy this summer. Look at the gorgeous color.

Nectarines at the mercato in Como.

Here we were at the mercato and she was bargaining for her fresh eggs.

And they were so clever at the market. They brought the chickens that laid the eggs for you to see how healthy they were.

The last photo is Teresa's homemade pancetta and some capicola. She had prepared a care package while we were there this summer for her little brother in Rome. Isn't she cute? She sends her delicious creations all over Italy to her siblings (Shhh..and to us too!).


  1. Your MIL sounds amazing. I'm always sweating and am rarely composed when I'm cooking. This dish looks amazing! I can see why it's a favorite!

  2. I found myself smiling as I read this post. She does indeed sound amazing and you are very very lucky! And to spend every summer eating her Italian cooking! Wow! And this is a wonderful, homey, delicious pasta dish.

  3. Thank you!Merci Jamie!I feel blessed for sure!

  4. This is a gorgeous carbonara...I am mad over your Mother in-law, she sounds like a wonderful lady :) P.S. you should be able to add a translator to you site...

  5. Ok, I am going to have to make pasta for dinner! Love that market! So funny your shhh comment of her sending you, ahem, food :P

  6. Here's another MIL story. . love it! I just realized I left the comment on your Italian Easter bread under my google id. . so just wanted to say I echo the same sentiment. So lovely to hear this story. . how wonderful that you have a MIL who you can learn from and watch cook. . I truly love this. and wow! this Carbonara looks freaking A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.