Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Pancetta Carbonara with Fresh Baby Spinach

Warm pasta.  Comfort food.  But wait, isn’t it almost June?  Yes, my warm weather friends, it is.  But alas, not so in England.  I’ve mentioned English summers before.  I suppose if there were an upside to a peak temperature of roughly 60 degrees, it would have to be that I can keep hearty dishes like pasta on the menu without feeling entirely like a fatty.  Don’t judge me, you know that you’d look for any excuse to have rich indulgent pasta too. 

So there we have it, I made pasta carbonara and it was good.  Chewy, cheesy, and loaded to the gills with delicious garden peas.  What? I added greens to this one – I’m practically a health nut now.  Next you’ll be asking for “light” dishes, with less meat and more “green veggies”!  I suppose we all have to eat our greens sometimes.  Stay tuned and yes, I will provide some snazzy summer dishes.  
Do note that although this recipe calls for only spinach, I added garden peas as well - don't get confused, it was my little addition.  Also, Tyler calls for fresh pasta in this recipe, but feel free to use the dried stuff here - the sauce will make up for it. 

In fact, I’m on my way back to the States next week!  You can expect local restaurant reviews, coupled with my attempts to recreate their best dishes at home.  This little game is quite fun and the great part is, you might find out that you can actually makes "the chef's specialty" better than him!  Also look for farmers market magic, and recipes bursting with all the things I can’t get in England!  Here I come country music and Kool-Aid!

Pancetta Carbonara with Fresh Baby Spinach 
Recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence

2 recipes of fresh pasta dough, rolled out and cut as spaghetti (from Tyler Florence's website, or your own recipe, or of course, 2 lbs dried spaghetti will work as well)
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 lb pancetta, cut into strips 
7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bag (about 3 cups) baby spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Parmesan Sabayon:
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan
plenty of freshly ground black pepper

If you're making the fresh pasta, begin by rolling and cutting the fresh pasta into spaghetti.  Toss in a little flour to stop the noodles from sticking together and spread out on a sheet tray to dry while you prepare the dish. 
Set a large pan over medium heat, add a splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta, stirring occasionally until crispy.  About halfway through, add the thinly sliced garlic and cook until golden.   Drain pancetta and garlic on a paper towel.  Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until tender yet firm (“al dente”, as they say in Italian) 2 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta.  Drain, and put the pasta into a big pasta bowl. 
Make the parmesan sabayon.  In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, milk and cream.  Set over a double boiler and vigorously mix with an immersion blender until it just starts to thicken and suspends a little – about 7-8 minutes. It should be frothy and creamy when done.  Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper and parmesan and mix once more to combine.  Pour the sabayon over the noodles and mix gently with tongs so the pasta is well 
coated.  Portion out amongst bowls, top with a spoonful of crispy pancetta and garlic and a small handful of baby 
spinach.  

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