Eek. Wedding planning has reached full force, meaning I’ve been busy more or less every minute of every day. Our party isn’t even that fancy or detail-oriented – I see why people hire professionals to do this for them. Time is quickly running out. However, sometimes you need to just step back from the tissue paper and take a few deep breaths – or spend some time in the kitchen making something delicious.
Noe and I were in serious need of some comfort food last night. However, the comfort food needed to be something that could be assembled from ingredients that I already had on hand and, since it was already about 8:00 PM by the time we broke for dinner, something that could be assembled fairly quickly – i.e., no long-cooking chicken pot pies or stews that need an hour and a half of simmer time.
The comfort food dish that meets the criteria and never fails me in a pinch? Pasta Carbonara. My version riffs on a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe. It’s easy, doesn’t require anything that isn’t normally in my fridge/cupboards, and is ridiculously rich and decadent. Little work with big payoff.
I had pancetta and some leftover thick-cut bacon in the fridge, so I chopped up both and browned them on the stove in a little olive oil. While the meat was browning, I cooked a pound of penne (good penne from Williams & Sonoma that Christine and Grace gave me for a wedding shower gift) in a pot of salted water (I always salt my pasta water – seriously, it adds flavor). In a bowl on the counter, I mixed up six organic eggs from the farmer’s market (they should be room temperature), half a cup of heavy cream, and about 1/4-1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmesan (shower gift from Aunt Jill).
When the pasta was thoroughly cooked but still had a little bite to it, I drained it (reserving a cup of the cooking water in case I needed to thin the sauce), and – while the pasta was still hot – quickly mixed in the meat and the egg and cream mixture. (I also threw in a handful of frozen peas, just for some color and texture.) You want to do this off the burner but while the pasta is still hot so that it will cook the egg mixture. Finish it off by mixing in another cup or so of grated parm (I told you it was decadent). If the “sauce” is too thick, thin it out with a little bit of the starchy reserved pasta water, a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
Yum. Probably not the chosen food of brides-to-be across America (I don’t even want to THINK about the number of calories in this dish – luckily, it is so rich that one bowl is quite enough for me) but definitely satisfied our craving for a fairly quick comfort dish on a cold fall night.
What’s your go-to meal?