Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eating Out Myself

And so we return, dear readers.  I have retreated to the Cave of Grumpiness, now that the Rogue Festival has come and gone.  Truly it was a grand two weeks for myself and many many others.  Shows were rocked, crowds were wowed and lots of new friends and acquaintances were made.  A hearty thank you to everyone who participated in the Rogue this year, from the organizers to the volunteers to the audiences themselves.

All that said, onto the foodings.  A strong lack of time and spare cash conspired to keep me from embracing as many Tower eateries as I would have liked.  But have no fear, I have every intention of Eating Out Tower and leaving her mewling and sloppy in my wake.  But until I can miracle up enough cash, we're going to focus on what we're Eating Out at home.

A favorite treat of mine is a dish I learned at the table of a disgraced mobster, who had been exiled from the home country for reasons unknown.  He was dating a rather promiscuous and somewhat foolish friend who had invited us up to his Hollywood Hills home for dinner.  So after some small talk about how he was Italian Special Forces, a former mining engineer, a single engine prop-plane pilot and what the current market prices of Bolivian booger sugar was, I came to the conclusion that he was the real deal and I had better buckle in, shut up and hold on.  And now, I'm afraid that my fiercly clenched sphincter was going to leave a spiral pattern in the seats of his redwood dining chairs.  But a dish was brought out that was so delicious that I was (foolishly) able to relax.  Such is the magic of pasta carbonara!

And then I find out that it's stupid easy to make!  The hardest part is finding pancetta, which is readily available at Sam's Italian Deli.  From there it's just a bit of planning and moxy.  So be not afraid!  And if you're too cheap for pancetta, you can easily substitute the same amount of bacon.  It's a little different, but still amazing.  So here's what you'll need.

1lb spaghetti (or linguini)
4 eggs (3 if they're large)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 lb pancetta (sliced thick, 1/8th inch)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup romano cheese (both grated)
fresh cracked pepper

Now, before some purist yells NUH UH!  THAT AIN'T HOW GRANDMA MAKES IT!  Well, you're right.  So go eat a dick.  We're making it this way this time.  I've done it in the past with only egg yolks.  Hella yum, but this is less of a pain in the ass.  So suck it.

First!  Give your pancetta a dice.  I like mine a bit chunky, so I keep it 1/8th inch cubes.  Then add it to a nice pre-heated pan, deep enough to take about a pound of pasta.  You'll find out why soon.  Now cook down the pancetta until you render the fat from it.  Unlike regular bacon, it'll start to look done long before it is.  Lower heat will help prevent burning.  But melt as much fat as you can out of the pancetta.  Once it's well done but not terribly crunchy, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate.  Drain the fat and reserve 2 tablespoons for later naughtyness.

Somewhere in all of this you should have already started the water for your pasta.  So, now would be the time for you to cook said pasta.  Because you'll be using the following 7 minutes to beat your eggs together with the cream.  Then toss your cheese in with the eggs.  Now, take your pancetta pan and put it back on medium heat with your reserved fat.  Once it's warm, your pasta should be done.

Now comes the planning.  You need to get your pasta quickly and safely drained and into the pan before it can significantly cool, since it's going to save you from an ignoble death via salmonella ridden undercooked eggs.  Thats right!  The hot pasta cooks the eggs!  So stop dawdling and get it in the pan!  Give it a quick toss in the hot fat, throw in the pancetta and then pour your egg/cheese/cream mixture over the top.  Cut the heat.  Here I find it easiest to use a fork and spoon to toss the pasta and egg mixture together.  It will quickly emulsify into a creamy, gooey, bacon ridden delight.  Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and you're good to go.  I don't use any extra salt as I find there is plenty coming from the cheese and pancetta.

Get this plated and shoved into your face asap!  As it cools that sauce will sieze, so this is a one shot, eat it as you make it kind of dish.  But I dare you, no I double platipus vagina dare you to be able to walk away from a plate with even a smidgen of this God-made-food left on it.  If food could be narcissistic, I could easily understand this dish wanting to fuck itself and forsake all others.

Make it.  Eat it.  Make other people eat it.  I will wait patiently for your thanks.