Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Orrechiette Carbonara

Pasta alla Carbonara is a traditional Italian dish originating in the Lazio region of Italy (where you find Rome). Although the exact measurements vary, recipes almost always include cheese, eggs, pork (usually pancetta, aka, bacon) and black pepper, served over some type of pasta. The combination makes a silky, creamy, not too salty (but just salty enough) sauce.

To cook the egg in this sauce, you add near boiling pasta water to the egg and stir vigourously to prevent the egg from curdling. Then you add the pasta water-egg mixture to a warm skillet and stir for a few more minutes, cooking the eggs a little more.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, orrechiete means "little ears" in Italian. They can be a bit hard to find (our store didn't have any), but are well worth it for the name alone!

Try serving with Red Bell Peppers with Spinach and Raisins or Green Beans with Shallots and Toasted Almonds or some sauteed zuchinni squash (for which we do not have a recipe just slice some squash sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper and cook them in a small amount of olive oil until lightly browned).

Orrechiette Carbonara
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetite April 2008
Pictures by Caroline

4 bacon slices, diced
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/3-inch pieces
10 ounces orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta) or small shells
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  1. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.
  2. Add leeks and sauté over medium heat until tender, about 6 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid (don't forget this step!)
  4. Whisk eggs and 1/2 cup Parmesan in medium bowl to blend; gradually whisk in 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  5. Add pasta to leeks in skillet and stir to heat. Remove skillet from heat.
  6. Pour egg mixture over pasta and stir until sauce is just creamy and eggs are no longer raw, about 2 minutes. (Return skillet to very low heat if egg mixture is runny; do not overcook or eggs will curdle.)
  7. Add some of remaining 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to pasta if needed to moisten. Stir in bacon, basil and pepper. Serve pasta, passing additional cheese separately.


ashrather said...

I think that this looks so good. It reminds me so much of Rome, I can't wait to try it soon:)

Jessie said...

I misremembered the type of pasta I was supposed to have for this dish and bought orzo. It ended up a bit like ham fried rice.

Just the same, I liked the flavor. Also, I'm pretty sure this is the first time I have ever prepared leeks.

Clayton said...

I made this the other night and it was awesome. Wasn't too tough to make either and it cooks pretty quickly. We had it with the green beans and almonds suggested and that worked pretty well also.

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