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Larkin Cen’s Chicken, Leek and Pancetta Carbonara family recipe

Masterchef finalist marks the British leek season with this delicious pasta dish

Posted: 5 November 2013
by Fiona McKim

Chicken, leek and pancetta carbonara

British Leek season begins in November, with leeks at their best and in abundance until April. Here, Masterchef 2013 finalist Larkin Cen shares his seasonal take on an Italian classic - lemony chicken, leek and pancetta spaghetti carbonara.

Ingredients (serves four)

2 egg yolks
100ml single cream
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
60g parmesan, grated
Splash of olive oil, for frying
300g chicken breasts, cut into strips
50g smoked pancetta, diced
1 British leek, washed and finely sliced, tough outer leaves removed
300g Spaghetti
50 ml hot water
Salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon thyme, optional.


For the Carbonara sauce, put the egg yolks, cream, the juice of the two lemons and half the Parmesan into a mixing jug and mix together with a fork.

Heat a large frying pan, add a splash of olive oil and fry the chicken and pancetta until golden and cooked through. Lower the heat to medium and add the leeks to the pan, and fry until they have softened slightly but still their vibrant green colour.

Cook the spaghetti until it is al dente, drain it. Immediately, toss the pasta in the pan with the leeks, chicken and pancetta, then remove from the heat and add 50ml of hot water and the carbonara sauce to the pasta and stir together. Season with salt and black pepper.

To serve – grate the lemon peel onto the top of the pasta with the rest of the Parmesan and the lemon thyme if using.


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