Just because I've been a bit neglectful of the blog doesn't mean I haven't been continuing to cook!
Take a peek at a few things I've been up to lately - beer brats last weekend, then a major cooking marathon of side-by-side barbecue ribs and homemade calzones, then last night's creamy carbonara:
Carbonara is one of the first dishes I learned how to make when I started cooking for myself sophomore year of college. I had never even heard of it, but read an article about Rachel Ray, and how it was a special meal for she and her husband. I loved how it was nicknamed "coal miner's pasta," and I decided to make it myself.
The worst screw up I have ever had cooking this dish was making the mistake of drinking some of the wine while cooking, then laying down on the couch while the bacon and garlic browned. Lesson learned: never walk away from the stove for a quick lie down. Especially not while you are an overworked college student.
I recently had a pasta special at the little cafe next door to my office that was called carbonara but was a really creamy sauce, almost as thick as alfredo.
I decided to try to incorporate a little of that creaminess into my dish this weekend.
Penne carbonara recipe:
(adapted from Rachel Ray)
1 lb pasta (I like rigatoni for this, you can use regular spaghetti. I used penne this weekend), cooked to just before al dente in salted water. Reserve 1 c of the pasta cooking water.
1/3 lb pancetta or about 8 slices of bacon
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 c white wine, like pinot grigio
2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 c heavy cream or half&half
3/4 c shredded or grated Parmesan cheese (can use a mix of Italian cheese)
handful of chopped parsley
Fry bacon until not quite crisp. Remove from pan and chop roughly. Drain the fat from the pan. Reserve entirely if you have uses for it, otherwise keep just 1 TBS
Heat 1 TBS bacon fat over low heat, return bacon to the pan and stir in the garlic and red chili flakes. Saute about 2 mins (do not burn the garlic), then stir in the wine. Increase the heat and allow alcohol to evaporate. The liquid will reduce by about half. Turn off the heat.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and yolks, then slowly stir in about 1/3 c of the pasta water to temper the eggs. Mix in the half&half (if using) and the cheese.
Slowly stir in the egg mixture into the pan sauce, then quickly toss in the pasta. Season liberally with freshly cracked black pepper and parsley.
And, if someone has a good way of reheating carbonara that *doesn't* cause the egg in the sauce to scramble, please let me know.
Dreaming? of my next Disney trip, in just one week!