Weekly Winner: Corny Carbonara with a Kick

If I absolutely HAD to pick a favorite pasta dish (which would be like choosing your favorite child, or favorite cheese – yeah, impossible!) I would say pasta carbonara would have to be it.  If I’m at a restaurant that has pasta carbonara on the menu, there is a very good chance I’m going to order it. I am not, however, a purist when it comes to carbonara.  I have no problems with tinkering as long as the basic components are there: string pasta (preferably bucatini) egg yolk, bacon or pancetta, and a sprinkling of parmesan.

So when I came across this recipe for Spicy Corn Carbonara on Pure Wow, I was hooked.  This is so good.  Not only good, downright luscious.  I imagine it will only be better this summer when the local fresh corn is at its peak.  Regardless, I will be making this — a lot.  While some homes have “house wines” or “house salads”… this will be my new “house pasta”  Bon Appetito!

Spicy Corn Carbonara

Serves 6 (so they say, however in our house it was more like 4 servings)

Ingredients:

4 ears corn

2 strips bacon, diced

1 red onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb bucatini (or spaghetti or linguini, but bucatini is best)

2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Chives for serving

Procedure:

  1. Cut the corn off the cob with a sharp knife. Transfer kernels to a bowl and firmly scrape the knife against the cob to release any liquid.  Discard the cobs.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and it’s very crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. Add the red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s tender, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Season with the salt and red pepper flakes and reserve over low heat.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.  Scoop out and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  5. Stir the pasta water into the corn mixture.  Raise heat to medium and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.  Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Add to the skillet and toss well to coat.  Add the Parmesan, plenty of black pepper and reserved bacon and toss to combine.  Garnish with the chives.

 

Weekly Winner:  Quite Possibly the Fussiest Spaghetti and Meatballs Ever Made

Well, maybe not ever made, but certainly the fussiest of such dish that I’ve ever made.  I’m usually not a fan of fussiness.  I don’t care if a recipe is overly complex, or complicated.  It can even be downright difficult and take several days to make and I’ll do it if the end justifies the means.  But fussiness for fussiness’ sake? Meh, count me out.

Having said all that, it should be noted that Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Pork Meatballs and Corn Cream was incredibly tasty and very unique.  Nothing in the recipe (which came from Food & Wine Magazine) was difficult.  I’m just not totally convinced it was worth the close to 2 hours it took to prepare it.  The meatballs are amazing.  I mean seriously tasty.  And while there was nothing wrong with the pasta part of the dish, I’m not entirely sure I’ll be making this again.  I’ve frozen the leftovers and will have them again this week and decide then if the recipe is worth keeping.  It certainly was the best thing I made last week, but I’m just not sure it deserves a permanent spot in my recipe book.  Super tasty, interesting, and relatively easy, but just a little too fussy for my temperament.  Make this for yourself and decide – then let me know what you think!

Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Pork Meatballs and Corn Cream

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

4-1/2 cups corn kernels

Kosher salt and pepper

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp minced sage

1 tsp minced thyme

1/4 cup whole milk

3 Tbsp plain dry breadcrumbs

12 oz ground pork

1 Tbsp minced parsley

2 tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp ground coriander

Pinch of ground allspice

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish

6 ounces chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and cut into large pieces (I had creminis so used them)

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti

Procedure:

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Stir in 2 cups of the corn and season with salt and pepper. Add 2/3 cup of water and bring to a simmer; remove from the heat. Transfer the corn and water to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the corn cream through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pressing on the solids; discard the solids.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of the sage and thyme and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, 30 seconds. Scrape the oil into a bowl and stir in the milk and breadcrumbs. Add the pork, parsley, garlic, coriander, allspice, 2 tablespoons of the grated cheese, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and mix well. Form the mixture into 12 meatballs and transfer to a plate.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter and the mushrooms to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, add the mushrooms to the meatballs.

Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of corn kernels to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the shallots and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of sage and thyme, reduce the heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook until the broth is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

Add the meatballs and mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Return the pasta and pasta water to the pot. Add the corn mixture, corn cream and the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and 6 tablespoons of cheese and cook, tossing, until the pasta is coated with a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the meatballs, garnish with more cheese and serve at once.