Friday, November 13, 2009

Real Carbonara by an Italian-speaking Donna (by Jillian, recipe by Nina)

I had better get the Italian out of my system this week before the Indian-mania begins next week. Last night I had a lovely dinner with newlyweds Todd and Nina and their Italian friend Margarita at their new(ish) home on the Hill. Nina drugged us- with bacon, prosecco, cream, parmiggiano, pasta and tea cakes. I almost asked Todd to put on his superhero costume and carry me to the metro. Then again, its my fault entirely. I didn't have to eat the entire plate.

Unfortunately I failed to take photos of this event. And really, I can't say there is a specific recipe. Rather its a story, an anecdote titled "how to make carbonara".

You start by boiling your pasta water. While the water is heating, chop up about two slices of bacon and fry them in a heavy bottom skillet until they are small and becoming crip. Take all but about two tablespoons of fat off the skillet and leave the bacon in.

Nina says "NO GARLIC" but her Italian friend Margarita insisted that chopped garlic goes into the bacon and fat. Then again, Margarita doesn't use cream and thus we immedietly discounted her opinion :) I say, if you like garlic, add it here with the warning that Nina's noni might come after you with her rolling pin.

Now, turn the heat to very low and pour some heavy cream into the bacon and fat. I would guess Nina used about 3/4 cup. She then simmered the cream and bacon and fat and let the cream absorb that bacon-y flavor for about 5-10 minutes. Remove everything from the heat and let it cool just slightly, for about 3 minutes.

While its cooling, separate the eggs, discarding the whites. You will need as many egg yolks as there are people to serve. We had four yolks. Nina broke them up with a fork and added them to the cream mixture, being sure to mix it all up good so that the yolks cook but do not currdle (if they do, the cream was too hot and you have to start over.

Add an extravagant amount of freshly grated parmiggiano in between sips of prosecco. Add your freshly drained and still very hot and dripping fettucine into the cheesy, eggy, thick sauce and toss it all up together. Add fresh ground pepper on top and serve.

I would also add a smattering a fresh parsley or a handful of green peas on top. We had some delicious roasted veggies: eggplant, squash, sweet potato, onion, etc.

With the pouring Nor'easter outside and the glow of The Office and and dear friends inside, it was the perfect evening.
In addition to being an excellent cook, Nina is a talented seamstress. I include photos of my hosts in their Halloween costumes. I don't know about you, but I am pretty sure that "carbonara expertise" falls under the realm of superhero powers.

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