This recipe also appeared in my blog in conjunction with the Times Herald Record, The Local Feast: Eating the Hudson Valley and Catskills.
Carbonara is one of my favorites. It embodies what I love about Italian cooking: that you can throw together just a few ingredients – eggs, pancetta, parmesan, pasta – and have yourself a restaurant-quality dish. But first, life updates. ( ^ ‿ ^ )
On Sunday, I did a trail at Prune. In restaurant parlance, a trail means an interview, but for both sides. You have the chance to jump into the kitchen and see a day in the life, and they get to see your skills and kitchen confidence in action. You meet the team, prep with them, help and observe during service, and if you’re trailing at a fantastic place like Prune, they even invite you to hang around afterward for a drink and snacks. Y’all know how I feel about the Prune snacks. I was slightly starstruck when I met Gabrielle Hamilton, or GH as they call her, in the midst of service, but I did my best to conceal it under a mask of kitchen concentration. On the inside, I was totally freaking out. (((＼（＠v＠）／)))
I like how at Prune they start line cooks on the grill – cooking whole branzino, pigeon, lamb sausage, etc. In most restaurants, the lowest on the ladder is usually stuck with veggies and composed salads for months before touching hot food. I also
like love everything on the menu, which is currently showcasing GH’s classic dishes from her new cookbook, Prune. Equipped with a teaspoon in my coat pocket, I sampled a taste of each dish we cooked during dinner service. The sous chef fried a little nugget of their sweetbreads for me, on top of which she spooned some of the buttery, bacon-y, caper sauce. No words. Just. So. Good. Basically, great vibes all around, and even if I don’t end up working at Prune, I want to eat there again and again.
Back to carbonara, which also happens to be a brunch dish served at Prune! Carbonara is a simple dish that requires quality ingredients: a freshly grated parmesan or asiago cheese, a cut of quality pancetta, organic eggs, fresh parsley… I figured it would only be infinitely better with a really tasty pasta. Every time I spend the weekend upstate at my mom’s, we have pasta from Northern Farmhouse Pasta. I love love their Bourbon Barrel Cracked Pepper Pappardele. And in the springtime (because certain of their flavors are seasonal) their Wild Ramp pasta is cuh-razy good. They make their products using New York organic flour, local cheese and produce from surrounding farms. Here’s a recipe for carbonara with Northern Farmhouse Pasta’s Wood Fired Portobello Fettuccine. Cocinamos!
- 1 12 oz bag Wood Fired Portobello Fettuccine
- 5 ounces pancetta, cubed
- 2 ounces (or more to taste) fresh shaved parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 large white onion, diced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- salt to taste
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- In a heavy bottom pan over medium-low heat, cook pancetta (with no oil) for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on all sides. Remove pancetta and the fat rendered to a separate bowl.
- While pancetta cooks, crack eggs into a large bowl (big enough for the cooked pasta), beat eggs and grind in some black pepper – you should be able to taste it but don’t go overboard.
- In a large pot, boil water with a few tablespoons of salt. My sister once told me that pasta water should be as salty as sea water. Keep this in mind.
- Add extra virgin olive oil to same pan and cook onion until all are translucent and some are turning golden. Remove to bowl with pancetta.
- Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 6 minutes or al dente (meaning to the tooth or slightly firm). Strain, reserving about a half cup of pasta water and return pasta to pot (with the reserved water).
- Get ready to toss the pasta! Carefully pour pasta into the bowl with the egg and toss vigorously with tongs, being careful not to tear apart pasta (we don’t want mushy carbonara). Add parmesan and keep tossing. The sauce should be thickening at this point. Stir in pancetta and onion mixture.
- Finish with parsley and more salt and pepper to taste. Buon appetito!