5/24/09

Bon Appetit's Orecchiette Carbonara / Self-discoveries via Food

I think this recipe might be a turning point both in this blog and my relationship with food as a whole. I KNOW. I need to step back and sleep on it (vague reference to act one of this amazing episode), but I'm just going to barrel through. It all starts with the fact that I chose to make this dish for part of Matt's birthday present. Matt really likes heavy pasta dishes. I usually turn my nose up at them saying, "But Matt, it's sooooo heavy."

Thus begins, the tale of pasta carbonara. Here is B.A.'s version:
And here is mine:

I started off slicing some leeks. By the way, did you know that the best way to get the grit out of them is to give them a 5-10 minute water bath? I didn't, but it's true. The dirt and what not just falls to the bottom.

I don't eat a lot of meat, especially bacon and so, I didn't know what I was missing out on in the cooking process. There is something really satisfying and almost magical about watching these fatty two-toned strips turn into the crispy, glistening pieces of food I'm familiar with.

On their way:
I guess I'm just (the last person on earth to be) impressed with bacon as a cut of meat. Look how pretty it is next to the parsley.

And hey, it's not done, let's use its fat to sauté the leeks:
Here's where things got really WEIRD for me. I always assumed carbonara was made of cream, but NO, it's just eggs, and almost raw eggs at that. Here's me beating the room temperature, raw eggs with parmesan cheese:

And then, and this is where I mentally gave up on the recipe, you pour the egg/parmesan mixture over the bacon fat, leeks, and cooked pasta while the heat is off. I kept rereading the recipe, asking, "Really? Bon Appetit? With the heat off?"

I was completely convinced that I wanted nothing to do with this dish on a food source level--as much as bacon impressed me, I had to be honest with myself. The sauce was made from bacon fat, barely cooked eggs and cheese. whaaaa?

On top of that, I was even more convinced that I was doing it wrong. I was positive that either the eggs were going to be runny or that they were going to curdle/ chunk up on me.

I added the bacon and parsley and though it looked prettier and the eggs weren't chunky, I was still very, very skeptical.

But then, something happened to me. I took a bite...
and it was amazing. I think I ended up eating almost as much as Matt did.

To review, the lessons learned:
1. don't judge a recipe by its ingredients.
2. I do like fatty, meaty foods.
3. i'm not as bad of a cook as I thought I was/ used to be. thanks, BLOG.
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12 comments:

  1. You are a great cook! Best birthday dinner ever!!!

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  2. I want some of that. xoxo Dadbers

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  3. Bacon love is a wonderful thing, and this looks fantastic!!!

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  4. Here's something you might not know about me: spaghetti carbonara is one of my favorite comfort meals that i cook for myself! i cook it perhaps once every 2-3 months. i would cook it more often, were it not for the fattiness level. however, i do not use the bacon fat in the sauce. that's just gross. raw eggs and parmesan is enough sauciness for me.

    i like this one though-- i'll have to try it with parsley and leeks!

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  5. Re: the leeks, when you say "all the dirt and what-not" fall to the bottom of that bowl of water....what's the WHAT-NOT?? i'm worried it's something terribly gross....

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  6. hahhaa, by "what not" i just meant MORE dirt, but was probably, on some level, just trying to scare you.

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  7. you are VERY cute and I loved reading this post.

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  8. hi amelia...

    'member me from PS. Monica just visited me in the ATL and introduced me to your blog. Even though I'm not a very accomplished cook...I loved it. Very useful and the funny commentary is a nice touch.

    -france

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  9. I love me some carbonara, but Jodi and I made it last year and were saddened by our result. we'll try this recipe and get back to you.

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  10. Spaghetti Carbonara is my FAVORITE. Laurin and I are totally making this. Thanks Bon Appetempt!

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  11. dude. i made carbonara a year ago for the first time and the raw egg thing TOTALLY freaked me out too.

    what i learned: doesn't taste quite as good when you know there's barely cooked egg in there.

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  12. Amy!!
    This is my favorite meal to prepare for my friends after a night out on the town. A modified version of course but always with parsley. It's even more fun to make wasted. try it....

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Thanks for your thoughts!