Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Dinner Desperation Turns into Dinner Delight
In a rare occurence, I knew what we were going to have for dinner. I was going to make one of our go-to favorite dinners, pasta alla carbonara, with some of Dave's freshly made bacon. It's simple matter of boiling water (duh!) frying bacon, stirring up some eggs and a little parmesan, then mixing it all together with whatever pasta was on hand.
And that's where dinner took a sudden left-hand turn.
There was no pasta. I looked around for someone, or something, to blame. Had our son sneaked in a midnight snack with the last box of penne? Had one of the dogs dragged off a package and buried it under the couch cushions? Maybe the cat…but then I remembered I'd made a mental note to write "pasta" on the grocery list but was momentarily, and apparently permanently, distracted by who-knows-what (A glass of wine? A clump of dog hair? A shiny object?) on my way to write it down.
A quick trip to the store crossed my mind, but the grumbling of the family's stomachs made it clear that sooner was going to be preferable to later. So I punted. I turned off the pot of pasta water, grabbed half an onion, chopped it quickly then did a speedy sauté in a sauce pan, added rice, then started ladeling in stock until the rice was just past crunchy.
The idea was to roughly replicate a dish we used to make with rice that called for cooking the rice with onion and stock, then stirring in eggs when the rice was nearly cooked to make a soft, fluffy mass reminiscent of cheesy grits or risotto or…well, dinner.
After stirring in the garlic and bacon, adding the eggs and stirring some more, what came out might not have been our beloved carbonara, but something different and actually worth playing around with some more. Maybe some spring peas, or blanched asparagus pieces? A sprinkling of garden herbs? I'll keep you posted.
Risotto alla Carbonara
1/2 lb. bacon, sliced in 1/4" strips
1 Tbsp. garlic
1/4 c. white wine or dry vermouth
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 c. parmesan, finely grated, plus more for sprinkling at the table
1/2 onion, chopped fine
3 Tbsp. olive oil, or a combination of butter and oil
2 c. arborio or other short-grained white rice
5 c. chicken stock
Fry bacon strips in frying pan until fat is rendered but the bacon is still tender. Add garlic and wine and bring to a brief boil. Remove from heat.
In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg whites and parmesan. Set aside.
In large saucepan melt oil and butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté till it is translucent. Add rice and sauté briefly, 1-2 min. Add stock one ladel-full at a time, stirring regularly, until rice is al dente, just past the crunchy stage. Remove from heat and add bacon mixture, stirring thoroughly, then the egg mixture. Adjust salt to taste and serve.