Saturday, 1 January 2011

Tribute to Garces: "King" Burger with Sweet Potato Fries and Maple-Chile Aioli

First of all: Happy New Year!

Unfortunately, with the pace picking up with my job, it doesn't leave nearly the time I would like to blog about (and cook) food more. I am mainly just cooking on the weekends now, with Vanessa picking up the slack during the week, which has been working out. So I have been trying to make it count when I do cook. This is probably one of those times where I 'made it count'.

I was watching Unique Eats on the Cooking Channel and the episode was about insanely awesome burgers. Within this show they had a segment on Village Whiskey restaurant in Philadelphia, which is run by Jose Garces (one of the Iron Chefs America). They started to talk about this burger. And somewhere in the distance, choirs of angels sang, immediately followed by the beating of native drums. They gave no recipe, but they did say what was in/on it (and that it goes for $26 on the menu):

-Bleu cheese melted on top
-Sitting on a bun with applewood-smoked bacon
-Cipollini onions with a bourbon and maple glaze (!)
-Topped with a slice of seared foie gras (!!)

I knew immediately that this was to be our New Year's Eve meal. I got to work writing a recipe for it, having only a few minutes of TV to go on. I drove across the island to go to the only place I know that has foie gras.

I don't want to toot my own horn here, but...


Though I cannot claim the concept as my own, I CAN say that it's the best burger I have ever prepared AND the best burger I have ever eaten. It easily stands with any other "gourmet" burger I've ever had, and there have been a few.

The harmony of flavor here was indescribable, but I'll try: maple-y/bourbon-y sweet onions, giving way to salty bleu cheese, giving way to a delicately juicy burger, finished with the fatty, unctuous decadence of the foie gras. To get all of this in each and every bite, was a religious experience.

There were a few times I had to back up off of it and hit the fries to prevent overload. Just got a new fryer, for which this was the maiden voyage, and the yummy aioli (my idea!) was a nice, sweet/spicy counterpoint to the savory-insane burger.

1/2 pound ground veal
12 ounces ground Maui grass-fed beef, or the best ground beef you can find
12 ounces ground beef short rib
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 hamburger buns, toasted

12 cipollini onions, halved
2 tablespoons butter
water, as needed, to just cover the onions
1 splash bourbon
2 tablespoons maple syrup

6 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
6 slices foie gras
6 thick slices applewood-smoked bacon

5-6 large sweet potato, cut into fry-sized batons
peanut oil or duck fat, for deep frying
sea salt, for sprinkling
thyme leaves, for sprinkling

1 clove garlic, germ removed
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup olive oil
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Combine all of the meats, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix thoroughly by hand. Divide the mixture into six equal portions and form into patties (if using immediately) or into a single, uniform log (if freezing for later use). If using immediately, chill the patties in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cooking.

Place the garlic cloves in the food processor. Add the salt and half the olive oil. Process for a few seconds, then add the yolk and mix well. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the rest of the olive oil and process until smooth. Stir in the maple syrup and chile powder. Keep refrigerated until needed. (NOTE: If your aioli 'breaks', put another egg yolk into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start on medium speed, and *very slowly* drizzle in, a few drops at a time first, the 'broken' mixture, waiting to see if the emulsion is happening before you add more.)

Heat the butter over medium-heat until it starts to foam. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, stirring to combine, cooking until the onions start getting some color. Add the water (enough to just cover the onions), bourbon and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer, then cover with a parchment lid and continue to cook, shaking the onions around to keep them moving around and coated. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a glaze and the onions are cooked through. Set aside.

Cook the bacon in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat until done. Remove, then pat dry on paper towels. Set aside.

Heat a grill to high. When the grill is hot cook the burgers over direct heat for 2-3 minutes on the first side. Flip over and cook over direct heat for another 2 minutes or so. Move the burgers to indirect heat and top with the bleu cheese. Close the lid and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove from the grill and set aside. (NOTE: You could also heat the buns on the grill here for a bit while everything else is cooking.)

Meanwhile, get a non-stick skillet heated over medium-high heat. When hot, sear the foie gras, 45 seconds on one side, then 20 seconds on the second until it has some good color and hasn't melted away too much. Pull off the heat and place the bacon, then the burger on the bun. Put some onions on the top and top with the foie gras. Place the top bun and serve.

Blanch the potatoes in a large bowl of water for a few hours. Drain and allow to dry. Heat the oil (or fat) to 300F. When hot, add the potatoes, working in batches if necessary, and cook 5-7 minutes. Drain and set aside on paper towels while you do the other fries. Heat the oil now to 375F. When hot, re-fry the potatoes for another 2-3 minutes, until they turn a nice, golden brown. Remove from the oil, drain, and immediately sprinkle with salt and thyme. Serve with the aioli.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Vanessa loves Halloween. More than most folks. We typically watch spooky movies throughout October and try to cook a 'scary' meal. This year, we had access to decent blood sausage and had seen this recipe online from Saveur magazine. The blood sausage was great, definitely an Iberian recipe (vice the heavier version from the UK). Lots of subtle spicing, and if you've never tried blood sausage, properly's amazing.

Nice interplay between the sausage and the wine. Really happy with this one overall!

Favas with Blood Sausage and Bacon

Recipe By: Saveur Magazine
Serving Size: 4


This dish is traditionally made with the blood sausage called botifarra negra—it is unavailable in the U.S., but morcilla may be substituted. This recipe comes from Colman Andrews's Catalan Cuisine (Harvard Common Press, 1999).


1 cup olive oil
8 ounces thick-cut bacon, 1 slice left whole and remaining slices diced
3 scallions, trimmed and minced
2 morcilla sausages, 1 cut into 1⁄2"-thick slices and 1 left whole
1 1/4 pounds fresh young favas, shelled, about 4 cups
1 teaspoon Pernod
1 bay leaf
1 sprig mint, minced
1 pinch sugar


Put oil, diced bacon, and scallions into a heavy medium pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Add sliced sausages and favas, stir well, and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add slice of bacon, whole sausage, Pernod, bay leaf, mint, sugar, and salt to taste.

Add enough cold water (about 1 cup) to pot to just cover beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until favas are tender and have absorbed water, 15–20 minutes. Discard bay leaf and cut slice of bacon and whole sausage into 4 pieces each before serving.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Macaroni and Cheese

After a long day Saturday, we got down to business with some good ol' Southern cookin'. You know the food was good through my clever use of apostrophes here. But seriously...

In any case, fans of the blog now know that Vanessa has taken over most of the cooking duties during the week, as my job now has me coming home quite a bit later. As she has picked up the slack, she is wanting to know about more cooking techniques. And though this pork recipe is written for the oven, we went ahead and threw it on the grill.

The meat came out tender and delicious, with a little zip. Perfect along with the Mac and Cheese, which is always a favorite.

Ted's Fiery BBQ Pork Tenderloin

Recipe By: Matt and Ted Lee - Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
Serving Size: 4


Becoming a certified barbecue judge requires a rigorous three-hour course of study, but we stuck with it and received our diplomas from the Kansas City Barbecue Society. We needed certification because we'd been invited to judge the prestigious Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbeque and weren't about to turn down the opportunity.

The first principle of barbecue is that nothing is called barbecue (or BBQ or bar-b-que) that has not been cooked for a very long time using wood smoke or coals for heat. In other words. we may get our diplomas revoked forgiving the name "BBQ" to pork tenderloin that has been seared, then roasted in a gas oven.

We'll risk it for this recipe (and one or two more in this chapter), which was inspired by the datil peppers we encountered in the Florida panhandle. The datil, a cousin of the habanero, was brought to Florida in the late 1700s by Minorcans who settled around St. Augustine. Traveling in the area today. you still find a few farmstands and kitchen "factories" turning out hot sauces and pepper jellies, sausages and pilaus, with datil peppers. Like a habanero or a Scotch bonnet, a datil is searingly hot, but it also has a soaring, aromatic flavor that most folks claim to be indescribable. Since we're in the business of pinning it down, we'd say it has hints of smoked bergamot tea and orange peel.


1/3 cup bourbon
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 datil pepper or habanero chile, blistered over a burner or in a hot, dry skillet, then seeded and minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2x3/4 lbs. pork tenderloins
1/4 cup sorghum molasses or cane syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing


In a shallow bowl, combine the bourbon, water, vinegar, ginger, chile, and garlic. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the pork from the marinade; brush off any excess and pat dry. In a small saucepan, boil the marinade over high heat until reduced by one third, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the sorghum molasses and ketchup and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Brush the tenderloins lightly with oil and season them with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sear the pork over high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the barbecue sauce over the pork and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast for about 12 minutes, or until cooked through, turning the meat in the sauce. Transfer the pork to a work surface, cover with aluminum foil, and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

To serve, thickly slice the meat across the grain and serve with any remaining sauce.


VARIATION - Fiery Pork Tenderloin with Sour Orange and Honey Glaze

In place of the bourbon, sherry vinegar, ginger and garlic, use 1 cup SOUR ORANGE SAUCE (page 528) in the marinade. Then substitute 1/2 cup honey for the 1/4 cup sorghum molasses and 1/4 cup ketchup.

KILLER LEFTOVER - Fiery Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

Refrigerate leftover barbecued pork and sauce. Reheat the following day in a skillet or a microwave oven and serve on a toasted hamburger bun.

WHAT TO DRINK: A zesty Sancerre (made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes)from the Loire Valley, or a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, with enough fruit flavor to balance the mix of spices and peppers that infuse the tenderloin.

Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe By: Matt and Ted Lee - Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
Serving Size: 12


In a chapter on vegetable dishes? Of course! At public schools throughout the South and in meat-and-threes we frequent (cafeterias built around meals that offer a choice of meats and three side dishes), mac 'n' cheese is always considered a vegetable. In our house it is, too.

How to make a great macaroni and cheese? One, high-quality cheese, and two, lots of it. In this recipe, we drench the macaroni in a cheese sauce made with extra-sharp cheddar and bay leaf Then we layer the sauced macaroni with more extra-sharp cheddar and slices of Swiss cheese for good, gooey measure.

If you have access to an aged Gruyere, substitute it for the Swiss, because it adds an appealingly funky character. But there's plenty of charisma already in this macaroni and cheese, so feel free to incorporate any of the brands of Swiss cheese you find at the supermarket, such as Cracker Barrel or Boar's Head. Either way, you won't be disappointed.


1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
3 bay leaves
6 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 pound)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 lb. Gruyere or Swiss cheese, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour 2 quarts water into a large stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni, reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, and reserve in a large bowl.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat until frothy. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, for 3 minutes. Add the milk, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon salt, increase the heat to medium, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. about 10 minutes. Add half of the cheddar cheese and stir until it is completely melted. Turn off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and stir gently but thoroughly so that it is evenly distributed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread half the macaroni and cheese (about 4 1/2 cups) in the bottom of a 3-quart casserole and flatten into an even layer with a spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle half the remaining grated cheddar cheese over it, then place half the slices of Swiss cheese on top. Spread the remaining macaroni and cheese in the casserole, scatter the remaining cheddar cheese over it. and top with the remaining slices of Swiss cheese. Bake on middle rack of oven until bubbly, about 30 minutes. If desired. transfer to top rack for last five minutes to gently brown the top.

Serve immediately, and -as you would with greens, with okra or any other southern vegetable, really -pass a cruet of Pepper Vinegar (page 518) at the table.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Toro Steak with Teriyaki Balsamic Sauce

Some people cringe at the thought of "fusion" food and its probably because many don't do it very well. Nobu Matsuhisa is world-reknowned and has ben quite successful at marrying flavors from the Far East with Mediterranean flavors. This is no exception.

The cool thing about it is in the simplicity. This was by no means a large or complicated dish, but the notes matched up so perfectly and the shiso rounded the whole thing out with a bit of sharpness. We used premium grade ahi tuna (in ABUNDANCE here in Hawaii) and the rest of the ingredients were few and basic.

This would be a great starter dish, or even pared down further into one-bite amuse bouche portions.

Toro Steak with Teriyaki Balsamic Sauce


Recipe By: Nobu Matsuhisa - Nobu West
Serving Size: 2


You will probably be amazed at quite how sweet and subtly flavored roasted garlic can be, and here it makes the perfect accompaniment to lightly seared toro (tuna belly) steak.


1 head garlic
2x100 g toro (tuna belly) fillets
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
BALSAMIC TERIYAKI SAUCE (see below), warmed through
1 handful baby shiso leaves
1 handful daikon cress (kaiware)


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Trim the root and the head of the garlic and remove any loose outside skin but still keep the head intact. Wrap in foil, place in an earthenware dish and roast for 20 minutes.

While that is cooking, preheat a barbecue, grill or griddle pan. Season the tuna fillets with salt and pepper and briefly sear each of them on all the sides for 2-3 minutes, keeping the center rare.

To serve, spoon a little of the hot Balsamic teriyaki sauce on each of 2 plates, cut each tuna steak and the roasted garlic in half. Place the tuna steak halves in the middle of each plate and garnish with the shiso leaves and daikon cress, and a roasted garlic half.

Balsamic Teriyaki Sauce
Recipe By: Nobu Matsuhisa - Nobu West


250 ml balsamic vinegar
300 ml chicken stock
50 g granulated sugar
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon mirin
kuzu, arrowroot or cornflour mixed with a little water to thicken


Put the balsamic vinegar into a nonreactive saucepan and boil until it has reduced by two-thirds.

Add the stock, sugar, soy sauce and mirin, and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring quickly to the boil and whisk in the kuzu to thicken.

Use while still hot. Any not used will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.


It is not necessary to use an expensive balsamic vinegar as the flavor is intensified during the reduction.

Asian Chicken Coleslaw

Since I am now back at work, Vanessa has pretty much assumed the duties and responsibilities of chief cook for us during the week. This was a great light meal, that made a good amount. This dish also benefits from a night in the fridge, to really get the flavors to settle in. Used fresh herbs from our garden, too, which is probably the first time I've been able to say that. A fresh, crisp, light dish with a little zing.

Asian Coleslaw with Chicken
Recipe By: Marcus Wareing - One Perfect Ingredient
Serving Size: 4


4 organic chicken breasts
4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 head white cabbage
1 carrot
1/2 cucumber
200 g beansprouts

50 g caster or granulated sugar
100 ml white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
juice of 1 lime

50 g roasted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons mint, finely shredded


1. Heat the oven to 400F.

2. Lay the chicken breasts in a single layer on a large sheet of foil. Spread them with the chile sauce and sesame oil. Wrap the foil into a parcel and bake the chicken for 15 minutes. Cool, then shred or slice thinly on the diagonal, discarding any skin and bones. Set aside.

3. Slice the cabbage as finely as you can. Peel the carrot and cut into very fine julienne. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and remove the seeds, then peel the flesh and cut into fine julienne. Mix all the cut vegetables in a bowl with the bean sprouts.

4. To make the dressing, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a pan over a medium heat, then being to the boil. Remove from the heat. add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine.

5. Just before serving, add the chicken and dressing to the vegetables and toss together. Garnish with the peanuts and herbs.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Sauteed Broccolini with Garlic and Chile Flakes

We have been on the lookout for more interesting proteins to work with, and we sorely miss the nearly year-round availability of game birds that we enjoyed in the UK. Walking around our local supermarket, we spotted these game hens, which is something we've been wanting to cook for awhile. I had to wing it with the cooking time (turns out 25 minutes was fine) as my meat thermometer hasn't shown up yet. Nifty technique with stuffing the compound butter under the skin of the chicken. This turned out very juicy and yummy. Nice sharpness from the garlic and chile flakes, creating a nice foil to the richness of the hens. Looking forward to having the leftovers in a few days!

Roast Poussins or Cornish Hens
Recipe By: Thomas Keller - Ad Hoc
Serving Size: 6


We love the young chickens known as poussins for their tenderness. They're usually less than a month old and weigh about a pound. Of course, you can use Cornish game hens, which are older and a little larger; even an ordinary chicken is delicious prepared with this method. The birds can be stuffed with the gremolata butter up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before proceeding.


6x1 1/4 pounds poussins or Cornish game hens

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
(null) zest of 2 lemons
2 large cloves garlic, grated with Microplane or minced
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
canola oil
6 cloves garlic, smashed, skin left on
1 bunch thyme
fleur de sel


Remove the poussins or hens from the refrigerator and set aside while you make the butter.

Using the pestle, grind the peppercorns in a mortar (or put them in a heavy-duty plastic bag and crush with a meat pounder or heavy pan). Add the lemon zest and garlic and mix into a paste. Put the butter in a medium bowl and mix in the pepper mixture, followed by the lemon juice, parsley and salt. Mix together until smooth and chill.

Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavities of the poussins or game hens, and discard. Rinse the inside of the birds and dry well with paper towels. Season the inside of the birds with salt and pepper. Cut out the wishbones. Leave any fat or skin at the neck attached, and trim any other excess fat.

Starting at the cavity end of each bird, carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh of the breasts and then the thighs to loosen the skin. Spread about 1/2 tablespoon of the butter under the skin of each thigh and spread the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter under each side of the breast.

Truss the birds (see page 23). Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or until they come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Brush the birds with canola oil and season with salt. Place the birds on their backs in a roasting pan that will hold the birds in a single layer. Scatter the garlic and thyme evenly around them.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes; the temperature should register 160F in the meatiest portions of the bird (the thighs and under the breast where the thigh meets the breast), and the juices should run clear. If necessary, baste the birds, return to the oven, and roast; check every 5 minutes.

Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Transfer the birds, along with the garlic and thyme to the rack. Baste the birds with the pan juices, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Serve the birds whole, or cut into halves or quarters. Arrange on a serving platter, garnish with the thyme and garlic, and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Chile Flakes

Recipe By: Thomas Keller - Ad Hoc
Serving Size: 6


I love the bitterness of broccoli rabe, which comes with a touch of sweetness and works well here with the nutty notes of the sliced and sauted garlic, and a little bit of heat from the dried red pepper. The technique of adding blanched vegetables to oil flavored with chile and red pepper flakes also works well with broccolini, chard and spinach. This versatile vegetable would be delicious with cod, grilled steak, roast pork, and chicken.


4 bunches broccoli rabe
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons garlic, finely sliced
red pepper flakes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cut away and discard the thicker part of the broccoli rabe stems, cutting 1/2 inch below the smaller, more tender stems. Remove any torn or smaller greens.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (see page 147). Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and line with paper towels. Prepare an ice bath.

Add half of the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and cook until tender but slightly resistant to the tooth. Remove with a skimmer and chill in an ice bath, then drain on the paper towels. Repeat with the remaining broccoli rabe.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until lightly browned and crisp. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and the broccoli rabe and cook, tossing often, for about 2 minutes, until heated through. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Peppery Chicken Curry

My express shipment hasn't arrived yet with all of the spices that I mailed myself from San Diego. So, I had to find something simple and delicious. We had to buy some turmeric, but that was about it.

Nice flavor from the slow-cooked onions, and clean, simple flavor from the pepper. This delivered pretty good flavor for something so simple.

Recipe By: Atul Kochhar - Simple Indian
Serving Size: 4


Black pepper is a favored spice in Hyderabad. This recipe brings the full flavor of freshly crushed pepper into the sauce rather than drawing on its fiery heat. The final sprinkling of toasted pepper makes a huge difference.


1.2 kg whole chicken
2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons white vinegar, or lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 teaspoons black peppercorns, freshly crushed
2 large onions, roughly chopped
100 milliliters vegetable oil
2 medium onions, sliced

ginger julienne
mustard cress
1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, lightly toasted


1. Joint the chicken into 8 pieces and put into a shallow dish. Mix together the ginger-garlic paste, salt, vinegar, turmeric and 1 tsp crushed pepper. Spread over the chicken, cover and marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Put the chopped large onions into a blender or food processor and process to a paste; set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large deep saute pan, add the remaining 2 tsp crushed peppercorns and saute for 1 minute, then add the sliced onions. Cook gently until softened and golden. Next add the onion paste and fry gently for about 20 minutes until golden brown in color.

3. Add the chicken with the marinade and saute until the liquid evaporates. Add about 200mI water, bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the chicken is done. Serve sprinkled with ginger julienne, mustard cress and toasted crushed pepper. Accompany with Indian breads.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara

It has been a LONG time since I've posted here. Things got a bit hectic and frankly, I had lost interest. I am a bit refreshed now, having moved out to Hawaii for the forseeable future. We are renting a place and I am without my usual phalanx of cookware, but we're going to try to churn out some good food here.

I have made this dish a few times, the most recently was for a crowd in Newport, RI, just before we all went our separate ways from a school there. It went down a treat and is one of my favorites. It's really got all of the elements of good breakfast: eggs, bacon and cheese. This is super easy to throw together and delicious.

Dont wuss out about the egg yolk. It's a key presentation element and allows the diner to mix it in themselves, allowing the diner to "finish" the dish, which I think is fun.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Recipe By: Mario Batali - Molto Italiano
Serving Size: 4


A true carbonara has no cream, and it can be slightly tricky in its execution. The key is to toss and thoroughly mix the cooked pasta off the heat with the cheese, eggs, pepper, and pasta water, to create a creamy yet not overly thick sauce. I like to separate the eggs and present the individual egg yolks in nests of pasta; then each guest stirs the yolk into the pasta to cook it and form an even creamier sauce. Be sure to use the best-quality eggs you can get.


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces guanciale (page 186), pancetta, or good bacon
1 lb. spaghetti
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 large eggs, separated
freshly ground black pepper


1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.

2. Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and guanciale in a 12- to 14-inch saute pan set over medium heat, and cook until the guanciale has rendered its fat and is crispy and golden. Remove from the heat and set aside (do not drain the fat).

3. Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until just al dente. Scoop out 1/4 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta.

4. Add the reserved pasta water to the pan with the guanciale, then toss in the pasta heat, shaking the pan, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add 1 cup of the Parmigiano, the egg whites, and pepper to taste, and toss thoroughly mixed.

5. Divide the pasta among four warmed serving bowls. Make a nest in the center of each one, and gently drop an egg yolk into each nest. Season the egg yolks with more pepper and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano over the top. Serve immediately.