Monday, February 20, 2017

Pasta Party - Ziti Carbonara

Today concluded an especially fun (and food) filled three day weekend that was indisputably action packed. We started at a friend's birthday party and then the family got together Saturday evening for an easy and festive dinner. I was in the mood to cook, even though it was technically my birthday weekend and I was otherwise taking it easy (we officially celebrated on Sunday with a phenomenal dinner at Brooklyn's iconic, Peter Luger). 

Cooking almost never feels like work to me, and when you pick easy recipes and do just a little bit of light prep work, entertaining can be almost effortless. I decided that dinner would consist of a duo of Pasta Courses and a salad. The first dish was a Neurotic Kitchen classic, Aglio Olio e Peperoncino, which is perfect in its simplicity and also incredibly budget friendly. Next I whipped up a sinful batch of Ziti Carbonara

I have to thank my mom for walking me through the Carbonara prep, and without a recipe, no less. It's one of those dishes that you can make almost by instinct. It ended up being the perfect easy dish for our family gathering. Really flavorful, a little rich and indisputably comforting. It's definitely going in the dinner party rotation for years to come. For tips and the recipe, read below!

Special thanks to everyone who made my birthday weekend so special. 

Ziti Carbonara, Photo: NK 

Cook's Notes- Carbonara is a dish you need to make a la minute. That means that you'll benefit greatly from chopping and prepping in advance, which is especially crucial if you're cooking this for guests.

Do Ahead:

Grate the Parmigiana Cheese
Chop the Onions
Chop the Bacon
Chop the Italian Parsley


Ziti Carbonara
Serves 6 modestly or as an appetizer

1 Pound Ziti
4 Strips (approximately 4 Ounces) Thick Cut Bacon or Pancetta (we prefer Coleman Organic) cut into a medium dice
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Sweet Yellow Onion or White Onion, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Cup Grated Parmigiana Romano
3 Large Eggs* (each cracked and beaten in it's own individual mug or ramekin)
1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Italian Parsley
1 teaspoon Black Pepper 

1. Make sure all ingredients are chopped and prepped as above.

2. In a saute pan, cook Bacon in about a Tablespoon Olive Oil until golden brown and slightly crisped. Remove the Bacon from the pan and set aside. Wipe out some of the remaining oil and Bacon Fat, leaving about two Tablespoons. Add the Onions to the pan and saute over medium heat until tender and translucent. Add the Wine and scrape the pan. Allow to cook over medium flame until it is reduced, by about half or more leaving a Tablespoon or two remaining.  Turn off the flame.

3. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. When it is ready, add the Ziti, stirring occasionally until cooked to a nice al dente.

4. Drain the Pasta in a colander. Return to the hot Pasta pot. Working quickly, add a handful of Parmigiana Cheese, toss well. Add the Bacon and Onion Mixture, toss. Add one beaten Egg, and toss vigorously and continuously. Add another handful of grated Parmigiana, toss. Add the Black Pepper, toss. Add another egg, and toss again. Add more Parmigiana and the final Egg. Toss until creamy and well incorporated. Sprinkle in all the Parsley and toss. Taste for seasoning and add Salt as needed. Add more Pepper as you wish. It should have a good amount. Serve right away in a communal bowl!

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