Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fresh Pasta Carbonara

Handmade pasta can’t be beat. Honestly, it is so worth the work. Truth be told, once you get the hang of it, making your own pasta is really not all that hard. It just takes some patience and a pasta roller. I got mine from a stoop sale in Brooklyn for $10 and it is one of the best kitchen tools I have. You can make a big batch of fresh pasta at once and freeze what you don’t need in smaller freezer bags. Toss the frozen pasta into boiling water and it not only separates easily in the water but also takes no more than 3 minutes to cook! Fresh pasta is simply the bees knees in my carb-loving opinion. And it was a strong desire for a heaping bowl of tender, delicate hand-cut pasta that led me to take a stab at tagliatelle and smother it in carbonara for this week’s pasta dream dinner. A creamy, indulgent and rich sauce, speckled with bit of cured meat that’s actually rather easy to make served over a pile of fresh pasta in all of its delicate glory. SWOON!

Fresh Pasta Carbonara
A Girl and Her Kitchem (adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

Olive oil
3-4 ounces of pancetta or guanciale or bacon, diced
1 onion, minced, caramelized
2 cups cream
6-8 egg yolks
1 cup parmesan, grated
1 cup pecorino, grated
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 lb Fresh pasta (may sub with dried)
(optional additions: lemon zest, nutmeg)

In a small pan, cook the onion in a bit of olive oil and a dash of butter (optional) with a touch of salt on low heat until they turn golden brown and caramelized. About 20-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
 In a large, heavy bottom pot, cook the pork (bacon, pancetta or guanciale, your choice) on medium heat until crisp. And put a pot of water on to boil. Heavily salt the water once it comes to a boil and add your fresh (or dried pasta).
 While the pork is cooking, whisk together the cream, egg yolks, herbs, parmesan, pecorino, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp pepper (and lemon zest and nutmeg if using) in a separate bowl. Add the onions to the cream mixture and set aside.
Once the pork is crisp, take the pot off the heat and let it cool for a minute or two. Slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Important not to whisk in the cream when the pork is super hot or you will scramble the egg. Return the pan to a low heat and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Do not boil the mixture. You want to do this step (stirring the cream into the warm pork) at the same time as cooking your fresh pasta. Fresh pasts only needs 3 minutes to cook so if using dried pasta, start the sauce step right before the pasta is done. Once the pasta is done add it to the warm sauce and toss to combine. The goal is to add hot pasta to the sauce. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
 Cook's Note: May stir in shredded chicken or roasted lamb if desired. Serve immediately with extra cheese on the side.

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