Oh what a nice week this has been, the sad thing is that it’s now Thursday again and my short, one-week break from school is coming to a close. I just loved being able to make my “Not Bad” dinner without worrying about papers and presentations or chapters to read or studying for tests. So I decided why not indulge a bit. I did some perusing of recipes (like usual) and had a thought about carbonara. I saw a post a few weeks or months or whatever ago on Rick Bakas’s site where he did a carbonara and I decided I could do that, perhaps better <grins>. Well after seeing many different styles I decided to take the things I thought sounded good and go that route.
So Chicken Carbonara ala Norcal Wingman:
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
6 oz. Columbus cubed pancetta (easier than chopping it up yourself)
8 or so skinny asparagus spears
4 Egg yolks
1/2 Cup Fresh grated Pecorino-Romano
1/2 Cup Fresh grated Parmesian
2 Cloves Garlic
Splash of Dry White wine
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper (to taste)
Spaghetti, Fettuccine, or Linguine - I used Spaghetti, which I would like to especially thank “the wife” for running back to the store to get.
Get yourself a big skillet, I only had a 12″ and wish I had something either a bit bigger or deeper… anyhow, start cooking the pancetta in the skillet over medium-low heat, you want the fat to render out.
In a bowl get your egg yolks ready and shred your parmesan and pecorino-romano cheese, stir together. Prep the pot for cooking the pasta, fill it up with water, add salt and a dash of oil to keep the pasta from sticking together, start warming that up. In a separate skillet or however you normally do your asparagus, boil/steam your veg until tender, remove from heat and cool to stop cooking, remove from water and set aside. Finely chop garlic cloves.
Chop up your chicken into nice bite size chunks and when the pancetta is starting to brown and get crispy remove from skillet and reserve (heh, that’s what the cooks say, reserve…). Raise the heat up to medium/medium-high and put chicken chunks into pancetta fat add chopped garlic and crack some black pepper.
Cook chicken turning as it gets golden brown. Your water for the pasta should be close to a boil, if it’s not crank up the heat and get it boiling, start your pasta now! Turn down the heat on the chicken and return the pancetta to the skillet, deglaze skillet with a splash of wine. Chop asparagus into 1 inch bits. Chop up basil into nice strips. Zest half of the lemon.
Pasta should be cooked al’ dente and should be just about ready. Drain pasta and shake well to remove as much water as possible. Place pasta into skillet and stir in asparagus, basil and lemon zest. Remove skillet from heat and add egg yolk and cheese mixture, stir in well to thoroughly coat pasta, chicken and all the goodies. You can add a splash of water (or wine) if it becomes to thick. The idea is not to cook the eggs but rather to let them coat everything evenly. Plate and garnish with a fresh sprig of basil over some lemon zest.
In addition to researching carbonara recipes I searched long and hard for a great wine to pair with this dinner. I checked everywhere, Nat Decants, Hello Vino, Google, all sorts of differing opinions on this. Many folks say that the bacon/pancetta smoky meat pairs well with a Syrah or a Chianti, but a red wine seemed out of place with a chicken pasta dish. I decided on a white, Pinot Gris. I thought that the higher acidity and lemon would really match up with this varietal. I found a Taft Street 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Gris at Olivers and it was a great match.
The rich carbonara, bacon and egg really pack a wallop and the good acidity and citrus fruit of this wine cut through and bring out the lemon. Yeah for great wine pairings!
This dinner is probably up in my top 3 now, it was really good and easy to cook, not to mention quick as compared to some others. Now If I could just get Steve Poizner’s damn AutoDialer to stop calling us every Effing Night I could thoroughly enjoy my “Not Bad” dinner. By the way Steve, you are not going to get my vote, or “the wife’s” just because you call… every damn night.
I digress, plates are clean!
Well, that’s it for this week, oh and if you missed last week’s “Not Bad” I was a special guest blogger over on Tim Hilcove’s Weekly Wine Journal, click over and check out my Memorial Day BBQ “Not Bad” of Ribs 3 Ways!
Cheers until next time,