September 16, 2009

Pasta carbonara

They say adding constraints to a creative process will keep the creative spark alive, and apparently this principle totally applies to my relationship with food.
Tonight's dinner exists because we have no milk, no onions, no bread, no greens, and we are tired of bean soup (I made a very mediocre soup). What we did have were: really good farmer's market bacon, frozen green peas, two eggs, and pasta.

Or I thought we had pasta.

Since we didn't, I had to make some. By hand. Because kneading dough is a great way to blow off steam, and because by then I was set on having pasta carbonara for dinner.

My previous attempts at homemade pasta have been pretty poor. Learning to handle dough (thanks to bread-baking) made the outcome a whole lot better this time around. The real secret to getting lovely smooth fresh pasta dough is giving it multiple rests throughout the mixing, kneading, and rolling out processes. Five minutes after mixing for gluten formation and starch hydration, then a good 5+ minutes of kneading (it's a stiff dough), then a few 1-2 minute rests while rolling out to counteract the dough's inherent elasticity.

I started out with the Italian grandmother method: cracking an egg into a little well made in a mound of flour. I wound up adding another egg's worth of water to the dough to extend it, since one egg doesn't make for very much dough.

Rolled out, floured well, rolled up, and sliced like (rustic) fettucine:

I had to unroll the noodles and dust them with more flour immediately after cutting to keep the cut edges from sticking.

BACON. Bacon which we got from a charming meat and pork sausage vendor who said his family was Jewish.

Would have used onions. Instead you get minced garlic.

GREEN THINGS. And salt & black pepper were added at some point.

I prepared the remaining egg to use as the carbonara "sauce" by beating it with a pinch of salt and some water (so I wouldn't wind up with an accidental omelette)

Shortly after this point, I gave the noodles a quick tumble in boiling water too cook (they just need a minute) and added them to the pan. More salt to taste, a few grinds of black pepper once plated, and a generous grating of Parmesan followed:

I'm eager to try making fresh pasta again and possibly freezing little pasta nests for future use, because fresh pasta is fucking amazing.

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