Pork Meatball Carbonara cooked in a Thermal Cooker

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This is another recipe from my good friends in Australia, Allan and Lindi.

Carbonara is an Italian sauce for pasta which probably dates back to just after the Second World War. Although there are two versions of carbonara, one made in Italy and one made in the United States both use similar ingredients.

The main ingredients for carbonara are panchetta, a mixture of cheeses, eggs, and freshly cracked black pepper. Americans add cream to their carbonara, and sometimes use other cured meats, such as bacon.

In this recipe I use a ready made carbonara sauce but you can make your own. There is no need to precook the pasta in this dish so it is great for cooking on your boat, in your caravan or motor home as it is a one pot meal.


For the Meat Balls

  • 400 grams of pork mince
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs plain flour
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

For the Sauce

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, sliced
  • 2 zucchini’s, sliced
  • 500 ml jar of carbonara sauce
  • 500 ml of chicken stock
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ cups spiral pasta
  • grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Simmering time on the stove top: 4 minutes
Thermal Cooking time: 1 hour minimum


  1. Mix together the pork mince, garlic, egg, finely chopped parsley, flour, salt and pepper.
  2. Separate into small portions.
  3. Roll these portions into balls approximately 2 cm in diameter.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the inner pot over a low-medium heat.
  5. Brown half the meat balls and place them to one side.
  6. Brown the other half of the meat balls and place them with the rest.
  7. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the saucepan and brown the onions over a low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and celery and continue to cook for a few minutes until the onions start to clear and soften.
  9. Add the zucchini and stir fry for a further minute.
  10. Add the meat balls back into the saucepan and stir in the Parsley.
  11. Add the carbonara sauce and the stock.
  12. Bring the mixture to the boil.
  13. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 3 minutes.
  14. Add the pasta to the simmering sauce and continue to simmer a further minute with the lid on.
  15. Turn off the heat and transfer the inner pot into the vacuum insulated outer container.
  16. Close the lid and leave for a minimum of 1 hour to thermal cook without power.
  17. Serve with grated cheese and a tossed green salad of your choice.