You know how in life there are certain things you'd like to achieve but just keep putting off because they seem too complicated, or maybe you're afraid you're going to fail so just keep postponing doing them? Well, that's how I was with carbonara. I know, you're probably thinking - that's all she wants to achieve - making a good carbonara? And my answer would be yes, that's it, nothing more ambitious than a good carbonara. No, not really, but I think it is symbolic for all of the bigger things that I do put off until "tomorrow". So, anyway, the moral of this story is that if you have one of those things that you're putting off, big or small, just dive right into it and if you don't succeed the first time, you will at least have learned what not to do the next time. And, maybe, that next time you'll achieve that goal, or maybe not, but you'll be that much closer.
So, now where was I? Ah, yes, carbonara. I've always loved pasta carbonara but it seemed too fiddly, what with trying to make sure the eggs didn't curdle and all. Well, I'm here to tell you that it is really easy. And what a fantastic meal you can make if you keep just a few ingredients on hand, items that many people have on hand anyway. The recipe is entirely mine but the process is adapted from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook, the pasta book, by Julia Della Croce.
The recipe should be plenty for two especially if you accompany it with some crusty bread and a side salad. I had a glass of French Cabernet Franc with it and it was a nice pairing, though I know that a crisp pinot grigio would be a good foil to the richness of the sauce, too.
For the meat I used panchetta but you could use regular bacon, or guanciale. I also shredded the cheese very finely which helped it to melt right into the sauce. I used penne because I had it in the house. The traditional pasta is spaghetti, but feel free to experiment.
1 oz. panchetta, cut into small cubes
1/2 lb penne
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 Tbls olive oil
chopped parsley (optional), I used dried
Yep, that's it.
How to make it
Put the panchetta in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta. Add olive oil and cook the panchetta over medium heat until it gets crispy. Hold over low heat. As the panchetta is cooking, cook the pasta according to the package directions to al dente.
Heat a bowl that will hold the pasta. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, add the cheese, salt and lots of pepper.
When the pasta is done, drain but keep about a cup of pasta water. I used a spider to take the pasta out of the pan to put directly in the skillet. Mix the panchetta, and pasta together well in the skillet
Put the pasta and panchetta into the warmed bowl, Add the egg mixture and mix quickly to make sure that the eggs don't scramble. If the mixture is dry, add some pasta water. Toss with parsley.
It's ready to serve. Sprinkle extra pamesan on top if desired.
Cooking the panchetta in a little olive oil.
Mix the finely shredded parmesan cheese with the eggs, salt and lots of pepper.
The finished product.
And here is a picture of The General Store in Port Gamble. I really enjoy this restaurant now that they've redone the interior, and the menu. The food is good.and they have an amazing selection of bottled local beers. In addition to the regular menu they also offer a few specials. The setting is idyllic, next to the water in this quaint town. When we went last Saturday, Dad got the fish and chips. It came with a monster portion of coleslaw. I had the meatloaf sandwich - I didn't read the menu closely, so while it was quite tasty, I had been picturing an open-faced sandwich, so was a little startled when it came as a closed sandwich. No matter, it was still good, just have to make sure to read the menu, any menu really, when you're ordering.