Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chef Michael (Chicken Carbonara)

This is one of my brother Michael's recipes, part of an ongoing "guest chef" idea we had to share with you guys. If you haven't read his story, it can be found here. Carolyn is his girlfriend, also a CIA graduate chef (Hi Carolyn!) and they both just celebrated their 21st birthdays (only 10 days apart!) on March 4 and March 14.

"Carolyn’s Birthday Carbonara"

My sister’s food blog has been expanding at a pretty rapid rate lately. It’s almost getting to the point of making me jealous, so I thought I would try to mooch in a few of my own meals. But please, don’t even think to compare her talents in writing to my horrible notes.

Tonight I made a version of spaghetti carbonara for two; simple, quick, home-style, comfort food. I've learned the good way that professional cooks prefer simplicity, and of course, comfort.

What you will need:
1/2 lb. spaghetti
4 to 5 slices of thick cut bacon sliced into about 1/2 in. pieces
2 chicken breasts, about 3/4 lb. total, cut into bite sized pieces
2 garlic cloves
6 or so cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 eggs
6 or so each, chopped leaves of sage and parsley
plenty of parmesan cheese
splash of heavy cream, about 1/8 cup (optional)
salt and pepper (maybe even some cayenne)

Alright so now that you have all of that stuff piled onto the counter, make some room for your cutting board, and get your pot of salted water on for you pasta.

Start cutting everything in order of the most simple to the messiest, storing in small bowls (I guess you could call this your ‘mise en place’ if you want). Peel garlic cloves by giving them a gentle smash to release the delicious oils and slice that bacon.

Get the bacon pieces and garlic cloves going in a medium sized sauteed pan or skillet. While this is cooking nice and slow you can work on cutting up the rest of your stuff. The bacon should be starting to get slightly crisp, you want to pull it off a little earlier than you would pull off your breakfast bacon. The key is to have it not as crispy so that it can blend in with the dish a
little easier. Save the bacon fat and garlic cloves!!!!

Start cooking the chicken pieces in the same pan the bacon was in, over medium heat. (less mess, and already seasoned with natural oil, but it doesn’t hurt to throw a dollop of butter in there.) Sprinkle the herbs on the chicken and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper (cayenne optional). Take one of those “used” garlic cloves and toss it in this pan.

Your pot of water should be at a rapid boil by now, so drop that pasta.

In a smaller saute pan get the mushrooms going, again with some bacon fat and butter. (I told you this was comfort food!) Also season this with salt and pepper, and drop in the other “used” garlic clove. Toss and stir pretty regularly on medium to high heat until they are slightly tender.

Now it’s time to start making the “sauce”. This might seem sketchy to most Americans, but in my opinion it’s totally fine. (Christina says: And Sylvester Stallone is fine after downing all those raw eggs!) Get a big serving bowl, big enough to fit the whole meal. Crack the two eggs into the bowl, a pinch of salt, about 1/8 cup (more if you want) of grated parmesan cheese, splash of heavy cream (optional, it adds a richness to the sauce, and I think if you’re going to make this you might as well go all the way with it.) Whip all of this up.

Your mushrooms and chicken should be getting close to done, so turn them down a little. By now your spaghetti should be done (al dente). You want to do this next step rather quick because the heat of the spaghetti is what’s going to cook your egg sauce. Strain the pasta, and dump it directly on top of the egg mixture.

Dump the hot mushrooms, bacon, and chicken on-top too. Now stir it all up until it is evenly mixed. What a simple ending. This dish is rich and full of great flavor, exactly how a quick meal should be. Consider yourself lucky if you get both of those deliciously crisp garlic cloves!


Anonymous said...

Your grandmother and great grandmothers are smiling down on you from heaven:) You guys are doing an awesome job of getting great food recipes out there in a way everyone can understand.
Love, Your Mother

Nowheymama said...

This looks great!

And, aw, a note from your mom....

Anonymous said...

Oohhh...that looks great. I can honestly say I have never eaten that before!

I must give it a try!