Thursday, September 2, 2010

And Pork For All...

Frost was in the forecast last night, but I think we are too low down here where we live. The higher elevations in the north west may have been hit with it though. The garden survives yet another day.

Little O was getting quite hungry last night when Mrs. Urban Eater arrived home from work. We decided to try feeding her pork as there was a pork chop in the freezer the day before, so we thawed it to use tonight. I seared it on both sides with some EVOO, then placed it in the oven at 350F for approximately 10-12 minutes. Pulled it out, let it cool and diced it up into little tiny pieces for my little tiny girl. Mixed in a little mashed carrots, some freshly made apple sauce along with the usual fresh pepper and a pinch of sea salt and we were off to the races.

Last night, my wife (BB) asked if we could have pasta carbonara for supper. Sure, why not? Let them eat pork! There is some pancetta in the fridge which has to be used soon, so I'm game. I'm usually careful about making this dish as it can be a little high in the bad fat area with the pancetta and all. The players are shown below. I decided to follow Lidia Bastianich's recipe for this dish as a guideline.

2 pieces pancetta, about 1/2" thick or 8 strips of bacon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
3/4 cups hot Chicken Stock or canned chicken broth, or as needed (if desired)
1/4 large yellow onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick (about 1 cup)
1 pound linguine or spaghetti
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Coarsely ground black pepper

The Importance of Coarsely Ground Pepper: Coarsely ground black pepper is essential to this dish. If your mill doesn't grind pepper coarsely, try the following trick: Place the peppercorns on a flat surface. Holding the rim of a small, heavy saucepan or skillet with one hand, and pressing down on the center of the pan with the other, crush the peppercorns until coarsely ground.

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to the boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Remove the rind, if necessary, from the bacon or pancetta. Cut the bacon into 1/4-inch slices, then cut the slices crosswise into 1/4-inch strips. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. A regular frying pan will do if you don't have a heavy skillet. Add the bacon or pancetta and cook, stirring, until the bacon is lightly browned but still soft in the center, about 6 minutes. The amount of fat in the skillet will vary depending on the bacon. If there is more than 3 to 4 tablespoons of fat in the pan, pour off the excess*. If there is less than 3 to 4 tablespoons, add enough olive oil to measure that amount. Add the onions and cook until wilted but still crunchy, about 4 to 5 minutes. You can add some chicken stock, if you wish. Some people like it wet like that. I prefer to just use the pasta water which is added later. Add the stock, (if using) bring to a boil, and adjust the heat to a lively simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced by about half.

Meanwhile, stir the linguine into the boiling salted wafer. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, about 8 minutes.

Ladle off about a cup of the pasta-cooking water. If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt if necessary. If necessary, add as much chicken stock or pasta-cooking water as needed to make enough sauce to coat the pasta generously. Remove the pan from the heat and add the egg yolks one at a time, tossing well after each. (A salad fork and spoon work well for this.) Add the grated cheese, then the black pepper, tossing well, and serve immediately in warmed bowls.

*Note: If you want to reduce the fat content, put the bacon/pancetta on a plate covered with paper towel. This will help soak up the extra fat. If you are a believer in bacon fat, just roll with it but don't use too much as it will overpower the dish. Replace the bacon fat in the pan with EVOO if you want.

The coarsely ground black pepper is esthetically important to this dish as it simulates the coal dust or small chips which were predominant in the earlier days in the small Italian towns where this dish originated. Black pepper is good for you anyways (, so eat as much as you want, unlike coal dust. Sounds like Santa was there all year round and figured they all were just bad people. :)

Well, off to feed O her breakfast which will consist of 1/2 a kiwi, some apricots, a little yogurt, some prune juice and the usual rice cereal. We are going to start letting her find her own way with food now as we will start to put he food in front of her let her try to feed herself. She has been learning with success, but she needs to start doing it full time now. Cue the cleanup afterwards.

On the foodie list of things to do, the Fairmont Banff Springs Wine and Food Festival will take place Oct. 29th to 31st. I've not been to this one yet, so if I'm in town I may hustle out to Banff to attend. I might be in San Francisco for a squash tournament as it was a good one last year, but we can talk about that another time.

Looks like it is warming up outside, so maybe a run is in order this afternoon. Doubles squash at 6 tonight, so it will be a good warm up. Better run and go change the channel on the TV now. Jerry Springer just came on. I would rather not lower my IQ at this point in my life by watching it.

Today's quote:

Don't dig your grave with your knife and fork.

 - English proverb

Until next next time, good eating everyone.


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