Tuesday, July 29, 2008


So I was hanging out with Jamie Oliver this weekend - in my bed if you can believe it! (Yes, fine, he was on tv, I was in my bed, whatever spoilsport.)
The point is, Jamie was making carbonara, which is a pasta dish I've never made. As a kid, I didn't like peas believe it or not, so it never really called out to me. As an adult, I don't really like to be fat, so I avoided it still. But Jamie, as he does, made it look so damn easy and delicious, and fresh, and somehow healthy, that I had to give it a shot. My recipe, thrown together as most of my recipes are: one part actual recipe, one part, "I think this is what I remembered him doing. . . approximately," turned out really really well if someone's three helpings are any indication (don't look at me, I only had one).
Penne ala Carbonara - serves "2"

  • whole wheat penne pasta - enough for 2 people; feel free to ignore petulant comments about it being "so little" - it'll be plenty, even for three helpings it seems
  • 1 small yellow squash - Jamie said to, "Cut out and discard any fluffy middle bits, and slice the courgettes at an angle into pieces roughly the same size and shape as the penne," so I did
  • 7-8 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 stalks of broccolini
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced
  • 2 oz chopped pancetta
  • 2 egg yolks
  • parmesan cheese - a handful
  • olive oil
  • TJ's ff 1/2 & 1/2
  • red pepper flakes
  • s&p

Again, this is a TJ's meal. The prechopped pancetta is a godsend, and they almost always have my beloved broccolini, and well, everything else.

Get the pasta water going, salt it, cook it, etc. You know the drill - but it'd be perfect if the pasta was done right around the same time as the sauce. Be sure to reserve a bit of the cooking water in case your sauce needs thinning.
I tossed a small glug of olive oil into a pan and let it heat up, then added the pancetta. Once it was maybe half way "done" I threw in the garlic and kept chopping all the rest of my veggies, then threw them in as well. This I let cook until it was all just tender and took it off the heat.
If I was smart, I would've started the sauce as soon as I put the veggies in, but I forgot.
So if you try, you'll need to multitask - keeping an eye on the pasta, the veggies, and creating the sauce.
Get your yolks into a medium sized bowl and add a handful or so of the parmesan cheese and whisk. Get it all stuck in the whisk and realize you also need to add the 1/2 and 1/2. Do so, and whisk some more - you can also add olive oil if you like. I only seasoned with pepper since (Jamie and) I think there is plenty of salt in the pancetta and cheese, but that's up to you. I'd wait until the very end on that however. Get the sauce into the still hot (but off the heat) pan of veggies and stir constantly so the egg can cook. Because I waited, I put the heat back on low and stirred for a while to be sure the sauce was cooked through, and tossed in a little pinch of red pepper flakes, you know, all BAM! like.
If you have not taste tested at this point, and there is no royal taster to do so for you, grab a nibble and decide on seasoning and doneness. Drain the pasta, adding a bit of the cooking water to the sauce to thin if needed. Add the cooked pasta into the pan with the sauce and veggies and stir to coat.
If you're planning on leftovers, you may want to put them away first, before serving any hungry people. If you just did it for two, you're good to pig out.

1 comment:

M. Quinn Sweeney said...

I hurt for hours, I ate so much but never regretted it for a minute. Your Carbonara was amazing!