Unfortunately, my body is very much NOT on vacation, much to my mind’s chagrin.
Still, the past two evenings have been somewhat vacation-esque, as Brian both cooked dinner AND did the dishes and all I had to do was eat and take the occasional photograph of cheese.
I think this is how blogging should go from now on: careening back and forth between vacation eating and having my dinner whims catered to by another. I’ll just spew some words onto a screen and call it a night.
Dinner tonight was a tight ass, bare bones, quick and easy pasta alla carbonara with peas, because of Brian’s pea fetish, which is second only to his brussels sprouts fetish.* The sprout fetish was inherited; I’m not sure from whence the intense love of peas came. Probably from the same place that thinks of melba toast and salted chickpeas as junk food.
But I’ll stop ragging on his food preferences, because like I said: cooked and cleaned. Also, when he had to make an impromptu trip to the grocery store because our bacon had turned, he not only refrained from grumbling, he came home with chocolate ice cream.
See? It really is still like vacation for me, except for the whole going-to-work part of my day. If I could just figure out how to get others to do my work for me, I’d be all set. Anyone? Anyone?
*Also known as “nature’s candy.”
While the pasta cooked up, he sauteed some bacon and then cooked up a mess of garlic in the bacon fat. For the sauce, he mixed egg with a pile of grated cheese and a touch of heavy cream (not traditional, his touch).
I minced the garlic and grated the cheese, so I got to feel like a contributor without doing any real work.
The raw egg is tossed with the hot pasta, where it coalesces and just coats each strand in a silky sauce. This requires some violence with the tongs, because you need to keep things moving along so your eggs don’t accidentally coalesce into scrambles. Brian is not afraid to manhandle the tongs, which is why he’s always in charge on carbonara night. He’s also not afraid of the black pepper, a crucial ingredient.
You can make things more complicated if you like. In particular, Cook’s Illustrated has a version involving a white wine reduction that’s tasty albeit a bit overworked, as is their wont. Christopher Kimball: Cannot cook without wearing a bowtie and nicely pressed slacks, and cannot make a dish in less than eight steps. (The carbonara recipe fools you by condensing all the steps into three, but we know the truth.) Personally, I see no reason to fancy it up.
From start to finish, everything pulls together in about 10 minutes. The bacon and black pepper provide pops of flavor that keep this from being a bland egg dish. The egg melds perfectly with the salty cheese; aside from salting the pasta water, no additional seasoning is needed. The peas, if you’re a fan, are little punches of vegetal sweetness that play off the powerful tastes of the pork and pepper. And did I mention the part about it coming together in 10 minutes? Perfect for an on-the-go couple who think they’re still on vacation.
Pasta all Carbonara for 2
1/2 box fettuccine
1/3 c. frozen peas (optional)
1/2 c. grated hard Italian cheese of your choosing
1 tbsp. heavy cream
2 strips bacon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. reserved pasta water (if needed)
copious amounts of freshly ground black pepper
Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta.
While the water comes up to temperature and the pasta cooks, dice the bacon and throw it into a pan over medium heat to cook it and render out some of the fat. When the bacon is done to your preferred level of crispiness, throw the garlic into the pan and saute for a minute or so, just to take the edge off. Set the bacon and garlic aside.
(If you’re using the peas, throw them into the boiling water along with the pasta for the last few minutes of cooking.)
Whisk the egg, cheese and cream together.
Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and dump it into the pan with the bacon and garlic. Pour the egg mixture over and begin tossing with great vigor, so that the egg coats the pasta. If you’d like to create more of a sauce, add some of the pasta cooking water here.