Friday, March 27, 2009

Linguini carbonara (serves 2)

Yesterday we had a blizzard here in Denver. I got out to the grocery store in the morning for just a few necessities. It was the perfect kind of day for the carbonara we had been contemplating for a few days.
Peter bought some pancetta and pecorino Romano cheese earlier this week (we had had some warning about the impending storm). He assigned me the task of researching various recipes so that we could come up with our own version, one that would satisfy our urges for comfort food, cheese, pasta, bacon, eggs, all the things that make life worthwhile.
My search took me to Lydia Bastianich, Tyler Florence (both TV chefs), "Joy of Cooking," and a couple other sources. The recipe below is a synthesis, incorporating an element or two from each. It was surprising how different each approach was: how many eggs (or combination of whole and yolks); whether to use heavy cream or not; bacon or pancetta; how much pepper; etc. Even the final assembly process varied.
In the end, Peter and I discussed and arrived at what we thought would be our ideal carbonara (and it was). I am fussy about my food being hot when I sit down to eat it. Hence, we always heat our serving vessels in our excellent countertop convection oven. Also, please note, the heat was not shut off under my giant skillet until just at the moment of adding in the egg mixture.
One last thing: if you live at a mile above sea level as we do, you already know that pasta takes longer to cook when your water boils at 204 degrees. The linguini box told us 9-10 minutes to al dente. It took 12 minutes and it was perfect.
Linguini carbonara
1 whole egg plus 2 egg yolks
1/8 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp black pepper
2/3 cup pecorino cheese, grated
8 oz. linguini
1 tsp olive oil
5 oz. pancetta, diced ¼”
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/8 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Put the eggs, cream and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk lightly (have these ingredients at room temperature). Add the pecorino and stir again. Set aside.

Heat a large pot of water over high heat. When boiling, add 2 tbsp salt and the linguini. Cook for the length of time suggested on the box, checking just before the end to ensure the pasta is cooked but still al dente.

While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add the pancetta and cook under the fat is rendered and it is crispy, about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring often until the pasta is done.

Save 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the linguini and immediately add it to the skillet with the pancetta. Toss until thoroughly coated with the fat in the pan. Turn off the heat under the skillet.

Add the egg mixture and toss until the eggs set and have completely coated the pasta. If the mix seems too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. Place the linguini in heated serving bowls and garnish with some of the parmesan. Serve, accompanied by a salad or green vegetable of your choice.

1 comment: said...

Hello Stephen, hope you're doing okay. This is one of my favorite meals!Hope you wont mind but I'd love to direct Foodista readers to your site, just add this little widget here and you're all set to go :)Thanks!

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