Friday, November 18, 2011

Food on Friday 5: Pasta Carbonara. (A Quest!).

So, there was a boy who was terrified of my cooking and the only American food he claimed to like was pasta carbonara.  Naturally, I had to learn to make the BEST! PASTA! CARBONARA! EVARRR!!!

This was quite an experiment - because I had to learn to make it on my own first, before I could dish it up and "WOW!" the boy.

Naturally, my first instinct was to check it out on Wikipedia to see the "roots" of the dish.

And as per my usual recipe "method," I then looked up all the carbonara recipes on Food Network and to check ratios and common ingredients.

Here are some of my attempts.  This was probably my first attempt - SPAM was the only pork-meat I had and I grated my parmigiano-reggiano using a KNIFE and scraping the block of cheese against the side of a bowl.

A little watery and not "mixed/melted" enough.

A little watery still and still not quite enough CHEESE.

I think I made this one for a visiting friend with lunch meat and edamame and still pretty watery.

Back to SPAM but adding broccoli - doesn't the green really dress it up?
This is also when I started getting my working ratios down.
The recipe:
Serves 2
  1. Cook 2 servings of your choice of pasta according to directions on box (it's traditionally done with long noodles but I like shapes and ridges b/c I find it "holds" the sauce better) - here it's 1 1/2 cups of medium shells
  2. While pasta is cooking, whisk 1 egg, then stir in 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano and a few pinches of truffle salt.
  3. I cut up 1/2 a broccoli head here and browned it with a single-serving SPAM slice
  4. Drain the pasta, leaving maybe a 1/4 cup or less of pasta water.
  5. Add HOT pasta into egg/cheese mixture and stir vigorously! (the heat from the pasta melds/cooks/melts the egg and cheese into a sauce)
  6. Mix in meat/veggie and keep stirring.
  7. Add 7 cracks of black pepper (or to taste) and split into 2 servings!
  8. VOILA!

With fish roe (I just love the bright colors!)

Used marinated chicken instead of pork - tasted great but not as pretty

The Process:
Cheese and egg mixture

Thick-cut bacon (closer to the traditional guanciale) and tomato bits

Hot pasta (gemelli) and egg/cheese being stirred together

Add the meat/veggies

And enjoy!

So as you can see, I think the traditional recipe is great as a base to work off of.  I try to use whatever pork-meat I have but chicken and shrimp have worked just as well.  I also try to mix in a(ny) veggie in b/c I feel a little indulgent eating just cheese and meat and pasta.

As it turns out, I never ended up making it for the boy but have an impressive yet quick, easy, and versatile pasta dish!

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