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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Straightening out pasta

The other night a friend wanted to go out to dinner, and I wanted to stay home so I prowled through my cabinet and fridge and then my appalling collection of recipes for something I could fix without a trip to the store. Came up with a recipe called Pasta Carbonara with Anchovies. My friend looked over my shoulder and said she guessed I was fixing pasta carbonara, to which I replied, "Not really. Anchovies, not bacon." But the recipe called for an egg sauce, which I though was more typical of aveglemono than carbonara. So I did some research.
It turns out what I made didn't really fit either category, but it sure was good. Aveglemono traditionally has a lemon taste and is not so much a pasta sauce as one for vegetables or leftover ground meat (I swear I've made it for pasta with veggies, but who is a Scot to quarrel with the Italians?). Typically it uses two or three eggs, separated, and you use the beaten whites as well as the yolks, along with broth (warm).
Carbonara is a pork pasta sauce in which pancetta or guanciale (made from pork jowls or cheeks) is cooked in olive oil (or lard) and combined with raw eggs, pecorino or parmagiano and cream, away from the heat so that you don't curdle the eggs.
What I made was neither carbonara nor aveglemono but a cross, and it was delicious.

Judy's Spaghettti with Anchovies

12 oz. spaghetti (I used linguine and less than 12 oz. because some spilled on the floor, and I had to grab fast to keep the dog from eating it--I had visions of dry spaghetti exploding in her stomach)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic coves, mashed
2 oz. can anchovies, drained and chopped
1/2 tsp. lemon zest (I hate shaving zest but the dish could have used a whole tsp if I'd felt ambitious)
1 Tbsp. oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley (I used chives because they grow on my porch)
2 large egg yolks
salt and pepper

Cook pasta al dente and drain, being sure to catch a half cup cooking water.
In large, deep skillet, heat olive oil, garlic and anchovies. The original recipe called for thin-sliced anchovies, but I prefer mashed--when I get a bite of straight garlic, it's almost overwhelming to me. Cook over medium heat until the anchovies sort of melt in. Add oregano and chives, and then dump in the rinsed pasta. Stir and heat briefly.
Meanwhile in a deep bowl, whisk the reserved pasta water into the egg yolks (I didn't use a deep bowl and splashed it everywhere). At this point, I thought it looked hopeless. I had this dry pasta and watery eggs, but I persevered. I added thee watery egg  yolks to the pasta and in no time at all a wonderful silky creamy sauce appeared. I left salt and pepper up to the individual diner, but found I wanted more of each on my pasta.
We agreed it was rich and earthy but we didn't taste much anchovy--a whole can is a hefty dose of that particular fish. When I did dishes, I discovered a lot of anchovy in the bottom of the skillet so my advice is to stir well.
This was good the next day as lunch but is much better eaten immediately after fixing it.

Original recipe is said to serve four. We had only one serving left over.

Serve with a geen salad. I had some marinated veggies left from another dinner and dumped them over some greens, using the marinade as dressing. Proud of myself for pulling supper out of the cupboard and the fridge. Just wait till I have veggies in the back yard.

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