Carbonara Cook-off

Spaghetti with Pancetta and Farm Fresh Egg

Adapted from Noca’s Taglitelle with Pancetta and Farm Fresh Egg

1/2 lbs whole wheat spaghetti pasta

1/3 lbs pancetta, diced

2 cage free, fresh as possible, egg yolks

2 cloves of garlic, diced

2 handfulls of fresh, flat leaf parsley – or however much you prefer

Lemon Zest…about three to four turns on the lemon

Parmesan Cheese, to taste

This is actually incredible easy. Heat a frying pan to medium, drizzle olive oil around the pan. Add the pancetta, stirring occasionally to crisp. When the pancetta is almost done, add the garlic and saute together for a few minutes. Remove from heat to avoid burning the garlic. Cook the pasta, about 7 minutes or until al dente (seriously, this makes the carbonara much better). When the pasta is almost complete, put the pancetta mixture back on the heat, adding one to two teaspoons of pasta water. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss together pasta and pancetta mixture. Add fresh parsley and zest lemon. Toss together. Serve in a bowl, grate parmesan over the hot pasta. Add the egg yolk on top. Instruct guests or yourself to toss the egg in with the pasta. This will cook the egg just the proper amount to not clump up. Eat. Enjoy.

I’m certain someone in this household did not ready Monday’s blog. As there are only two who read (if Parker has learned how, he certainly hasn’t shared), I have to assume that the non-reader is Casey. Tasked with making dinner on Tuesday, he texts me to ask, “Are you using the pancetta for anything? I’d like to make carbonara.”

“No, I don’t need it tonight. Save me half for tomorrow.” I replied, holding back a “you’ve got to be kidding me” comment. After work I decided I would secretly pair us off in a head to head carbonara contest.

I can’t document Casey’s entire carbonara cooking experience. We’ve come to an agreement that when he cooks, I stay out of the kitchen. When in the kitchen, I’m reminded of a very recently viewed episode of Gilmore Girls, where Jackson cooks for Suki for the first time. In Suki’s kitchen. Suki, being the slight perfectionist, continues to correct Jackson on what pan to use, how to chop an onion the easy way, what knife to use when…wait, that sounds like me. But I digress…

Casey was disappointed that he’d over cooked both pasta and egg, but I really couldn’t tell the difference. The garlic was slightly burned, however that may have been my fault. There weren’t as many peas as I would have liked…but I’m working on that one. Yes, I asked him to put peas in the carbonara. The small hint of green soothes my guilty heart as my tastebuds greedily enjoy cheese, pasta, egg, and pancetta mixed together in beautiful delicious carbonara. Despite all these faux paus, for a quickly put together Tuesday night meal, Casey’s carbonara was satisfying. Accompanied by a lovely spinach, almond, and strawberry salad, dinner turned out to be a lovely experience.

Now for my turn. Earlier this summer, the local paper ran an special about making pasta. A dish highlighted was this lovely pancetta, egg yolk, and pasta dish accompanied by a delicious photograph. Said article found its way to my refrigerator door, where it gathered dust and absorbed lengthy gazes as I contemplated when, and for whom, the dish would be made. I struggled with the fact that (1) I didn’t have fresh, homemade pasta like the recipe called for. I most likely wasn’t going to have fresh, homemade pasta any time soon (I am not fond of flour all over the kitchen). (2) Where was I going to get farm fresh egg yolk in the middle of the city? A farmers market, of course! (3) Does any grocery store besides Whole Foods or AJs, which tend to not be in the budget, carry pancetta? My mom is probably thinking, “Fry’s does.” Our Fry’s does not. Perhaps the Fry’s on Tatum and Shea – mecca of ridiculously large and terribly Global North grocery stores – has pancetta? Possibly, but I don’t feel like valet parking my Honda to grocery shop.

After too many excuses and not any good ones at that, I made this pasta. Adding the lemon zest and parsley helped lighten the mood. I love the taste of fresh parsley, the way is crunches slightly and the scent tickles..a little bit. Paired with fresh lemon zest, the combination brightened the dish and gave a nice citrus bite to what might otherwise be a pancetta overload. This dish will be made again, but not with the same diligence and care given on its first go around.

Dessert was my favorite: white nectarines and black plums with a sprinkling of raw organic sugar. Nectarines are heavenly. Juicy and sweet, with a little crunch. Not only do they have these wonderful flavors, but I love the starl contrast of colors the fruit. Plums…well, plums can be pretty but most of the time they a just plain old delicious. Given that nectarines and plums won’t be around in their current abundance much longer, I’m eating as many as I can.


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