Monday, March 19, 2007
It's always good to have a fall back position, especially when things are a little chaotic. Someplace you can go and know things are going to be okay. I'm going through that particular chaos known as moving right now, which while exciting is also a bit non-relaxing in that "what fucking box did I put that in?" or "where the hell is my chefs knife?" kind of way. Thankfully by the end of the day, when both w and I were totally starving, we had found all we needed to whip up one of our favorite things, Spaghetti alla Carbonara.
Talk about finding that good place. When doesn't this taste perfect besides never. So simple, and at the end of a day of schlepping and unpacking, blessedly easy. This is one reason, the main reason, I always keep portioned out pancetta in the freezer and a box of DeCecco dry spaghetti in the pantry. A little chopping, sautéing, boiling, and tossing and you're good to go. The following recipe is from the bible as written by Marcella Hazan, her indispensable Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. It puts to shame any other carbonara recipe I've tried. The key is infusing the olive oil with the garlic and finishing the pancetta with the splash of wine, which perks up the whole dish. As Ella might have sung, this is so nice to come home to!
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
1/2 # pancetta (or if you must, regular bacon. Sadly, it won't be as good.)
4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 large eggs
3/4 cup grated parmagiano-reggiano cheese (Marcella calls for 1/2 cup parma and 1/2 cup pecorino-romano, which I hardly ever have and doesn't make a huge difference)
Fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1# spaghetti, preferably DeCecco dry pasta
1. Cut pancetta into 1/4" dice
2 Lightly mash garlic with knife blade, which will loosen the skin. Discard skin. Put garlic and olive oil into 10" sauté pan and turn on heat to medium high. Sautee until garlic turns medium gold, and remove and discard it.
3. Put diced pancetta into the pan, and cook until they crisp. ( I let mine get quite crispy, and a bit smoky, which I think adds depth of flavor). Add wine at this point and let bubble away for 2 1 or 2 minutes and turn off heat.
4. Break the 2 eggs into the serving bowl you'll be using for the pasta and lightly beat with a fork. Then add the cheese, a liberal grinding of pepper, and the chopped parsley. Mix thoroughly.
5 Add the cooked, drained spaghetti to the bowl and toss rapidly. While tossing, briefly reheat the pancetta and add to the bowl, toss thoroughly again and serve immediately.
6. Pop a bottle of good red wine (we had a 2004 Fattoria de Petroio Chianti, one of my current faves), and be prepared to eat more than you should, because you'll be back for seconds, or.....!