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Gastronomic Fight Club SM

Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

RECIPE: Spaghetti Carbonara by Jennifer McLagan

posted by snekse
Excepted from "Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes" (Chapter: Pork Fat; Page: 86) by Jennifer McLagan. Printed with permission from Ten Speed Press

RECIPE: Spaghetti Carbonara

This was one of the first "foreign" dishes I taught myself to cook, more than thirty years ago. At the time, Italian food outside of Italy consistent mostly of lasagna and spaghetti with meatballs. The idea that a pasta sauce could be so simple was revolutionary.

As with all simple dishes, the secret is in the quality of the ingredients, in this case, pancetta, eggs, and Parmasan cheese. Pancetta, which means "little stomach," is cured (but not smoked) pig's belly that is sold either in a slab or rolled up like a jelly roll. Look for pancetta with more fat than meat, because it's the fat that is going to make this sauce flavorful. I always have some pancetta in my freezer. That way, I know I can always make myself a fast, delicious meal.

Make this for one, two, or four. Any more and you'll have too much spaghetti to handle. It's a great dish for those evenings when you're home alone. For one person, halve the recipe, using one egg and one yolk; for hour people, just double everything, but use two frying pans. This dish is great with a watercress salad.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 2

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 ounces / 200 g spaghetti
3 1/2 ounces / 100 g pancetta
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup / 30 g very finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti, stir, and return to a boil. Adjust the heat so the water boils gently and cook until the spaghetti is al dente, 10 - 12 minutes. Drain well.

While the water is coming to a boil, cut the pancetta into matchstick- sized pieces. Place a large frying pan over very low heat and add the pancetta. Cook gently so that it renders its fat and becomes crisp, about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolk, season well with pepper and whisk in half of the cheese.

When the pancetta is cooked, pour he wine into the frying pan and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the drained spaghetti to the pan. Toss the spaghetti to coat it with the pancetta and fat. Pour in the egg mixture and continue to toss until the spaghetti is coated. The heat of the spaghetti and pan will cook the eggs.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve with the remaining cheese on the side.

TIP: If your spaghetti is not ready when the pancetta is finished, deglaze the pan anyway and remove it from the head. Reheat and the pancetta and wine before adding the cooked spaghetti.

Rating: Not yet rated

GFC's Review of "Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes" including links to other recipes from the book.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: A Chef's review of 'Fat'

posted by Paul Urban
This is a book review of Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes from a chef's perspective. Our featured chef for this review is Paul Urban.

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes

Let's start this off with a big thank you to Jennifer McLagan. Thank you one hundred times over. Chef's, cooks, home cooks, foodies and people that just like to cook have been plagued at our local bookstores as of late with too many "20 Minute Meals," "Low Carb Cooking," and "Kid Meets Grill" type cookbooks. Not that these books should not exist, it's just that they should be banished to the basement of the bookstores and categorized as "books written by accidental celebrities." There should be a disclaimer that purchasing any of these books does not guarantee that any valid information lies within the book. So thanks again. Finally, a book on an ingredient that has been a staple in every form of cooking since the beginning of time, yet an ingredient that has been misunderstood, under appreciated and banished as though it were a tobacco company as of late.

From the beautiful front cover, to the ten or so page introduction, this book was pretty captivating. She covers it all in the intro. Why fat is good for you. Why it has been misunderstood. Why it's okay to like fat, even a few paragraphs on why she wrote a book on fat! The information that follows is no less intriguing. Riding a nice wave of interesting information such as the roots of foie gras, to a recipe that basically tells you to fry pork skin and eat it, I found it to be wonderfully balanced. The recipes are quite simple, using ingredients that are readily available and nothing too intimidating for the novice cook. Butter poaching, confit, rillettes and basic charcuterie recipes are found throughout which made me smile. Charcuterie is a lost art and it's sad because it is a part of all of us. Our ancestors practiced charcuterie. It was used as a way of storing meats with no refrigeration, using all parts of the animal so not to waste the sacrifice, a matter of survival in a sense, yet delicious, and simple.

My partner and I both read the book. (although she read it in one evening and it took me three weeks, but that's a whole other review on which one of us is more responsible, we won't go into that.) We tried a few recipes. We made butter, it seemed necessary based on the book we were reading. It was simple, it was fun and accurate. We made it, we froze it and we ate it over the next couple of weeks. We made rillettes per Mrs. McLagans' recipe. We made ours with quail that we had at home. It's basically meat cooked in fat, then stored in fat so needless to say, it was delicious. This was a pleasant recipe, I was happy to see it in there. Rillettes can seem daunting and intimidating yet they are so simple. The author came about it in a very non-pretentious way, explaining every step and why every step was taken. We did not try the roast chicken recipe but we have both made this in the past in the same manner. It's simple, it involves large amounts of butter and herbs, and it's probably delicious. We have lately switched to the Thomas Keller method. (the Bouchon cookbook) His method is much more simple and involves large amounts of butter, the only difference being that the butter is added only after the bird is cooked. He says to use butter for cooking if you'd like, he doesn't only because when the butter melts, it creates steam, causing the skin of the bird to be less crisp. The point is, they both impart fat, both recipes are simple and wonderful.

All in all, this book was great. Two thumbs up. Tons of interesting facts, myths busted and finally someone sticking up for an ingredient that has been misunderstood for far too long. Several quotes along the sides of the pages throughout the book can get a tad annoying but it's a great read overall with simple, detailed recipes. Thank you Jennifer, you scored one for the good guys. The next time I clean up a ribeye, save the chain to be grilled and shared with my fellow cooks, I'm going to feel a little less guilty........Who am I kidding, I never really felt guilty, kudos none the less!

Title: Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes
A Ten Speed Press Book
By Jennifer Mclagan
Photographs by Leigh Beisch
List Price: $32.50 (Published in September 2008) - Order

Three separate reviews of Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes
Alinea, Under Pressure and other cookbooks

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes

posted by snekse

Something that I promised several months ago is finally coming to fruition - book reviews. And to start things off right, I've decided our first book is worthy of not one, but three separate reviews. It will be reviewed by a chef, an avid home cook, and myself (an occasional, semi-competent cook). This will give you various perspectives so you'll have a better idea about who this book is geared toward and if it suits your interests. We'll also be printing two recipes from the book so you can try it out yourself. Look for the first review tomorrow and the others to follow over the next couple of weeks.

Title: Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes
A Ten Speed Press Book
By Jennifer Mclagan
Photographs by Leigh Beisch
List Price: $32.50 (Published in September 2008) - Order

BOOK REVIEW: A Chef's review of 'Fat'

RECIPE: Homemade Butter
RECIPE: Spicy Buttered Popcorn, Duck Rillettes, Grilled Steak with Red Wine Sauce and Bone Marrow, Cassoulet, Bacon Fat Spice Cookies
RECIPE: Salted Butter Tart
Jennifer McLagan's Website

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

REVIEW: Foodie Babies Wear Bibs

posted by Foodie-E
Foodie Babies Wear Bibs
We received a new board book for our daughter called Foodie Babies Wear Bibs. It is a small colorful book with 9 pages of easy to remember text and 9 pages of brightly colored drawings that include a diverse set of patterns.

When I flipped through the book, I thought it was cute and I enjoyed looking at the drawings of big headed babies with small faces. However, when I gave the book to my 1 year old daughter she preferred to chew on it or just carry it around with her. As I flipped the pages for her, she didn't seem all that interested in the pictures or what was in them like she has with other books. I'm not sure if the drawings are too sophisticated or intricate for her to really make high or low of them, but none the less, she was not all that interested in it.

Overall, I think this book is more for the foodie parents than the foodie baby. Would I buy it for myself? Maybe not, but it would make a great baby shower gift for the parents to oooh and aaah over before the baby comes and then the baby can drool and chew on it later. :)

Title: Foodie Babies Wear Bibs
An Urban Babies Wear Black Book
By Michelle Sinclair Colman
Illustrations by Nathalie Dion
List Price: $6.95 (Available in October 2008) - Pre-Order

Rating: 87

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