Saturday, April 10, 2010

Grown-up Spaghetti.

Nothing has quite the positive impact on my disposition than spending an afternoon in the kitchen. Scratch that- Nothing has quite the positive impact on my disposition than finding fresh rhubarb at the grocery store (thanks Pacific NW!) and spending an afternoon in the kitchen with Garth Brooks and a beer.

I baked the rhubarb pie that I love so dearly- and remembered to take a photo this time!

After I was done preparing dessert, I thought it would be a good idea to tackle dinner, and settled on a decidedly adult spaghetti dish. I don’t do much spaghetti these days- I suppose I’m a little burnt out on the marinara sauce. However, I used to eat my noodles exclusively with shredded cheddar cheese and butter with my pasta sauce on the side. I wasn’t much of a picky eater as a kid, but that was definitely my preference- cheesy, butter noodles. I suppose that I’m trying to say that I’ve eaten enough bland spaghetti in my life that I always think there are more interesting things I could be eating.

Saveur magazine did a bit on Roman food this month and I happened to come across a spaghetti recipe that spoke to me- Spaghetti alla carbonara. This dish involves pancetta, a whole lot of crushed black pepper, and raw eggs. I’m a huge fan of raw eggs- their whites in cocktails, their yolks in salad dressing, and now in pasta sauce! There’s a certain silky texture that raw eggs bring to the party that is able to trump any competitor. I strongly encourage the use of fresh farm eggs if you have access to them.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara- From Saveur Magazine

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz pancetta cut into ½ inch pieces
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 ¾ cups finely grated Parmesan
1 egg plus 3 yolks
1 lb spaghetti

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (6-8 minutes). Add pepper (either crushed with a mortar and pestle or ground with pepper mil on its coarsest setting) and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Transfer pancetta mixture into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Stir in 1 ½ cups parmesan and egg and yolks. Stir to combine and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente (8-10 minutes for sea level, more like 10-12 for folks at 5,000 feet). Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta. Turn off heat on element and return pot to the stovetop. Add drained pasta and toss with pancetta mixture. Add pasta water a little at a time to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt (if needed) and pepper. Serve with remaining Parmesan.

I’m usually a one-dish dinner kind of gal, but for such a deceptively anemic looking main dish, I highly recommend pairing with a zippy arugula salad with toasted walnuts, sliced pear and chevre cheese.

No comments: