Chicken Carbonara (Wizzle Style)
I just moved in to a new house. My first house. It's nice. So I figured what better way to warm the house than to have the Internet over for dinner.
Tonight we're having Chicken Carbonara, as mentioned in the thread title.
Step 1: Cut Bacon
Step 2: Cook Bacon
Don't drain off the fat. Bacon fat is great for cooking. It has a high smoke point. Cooks will appreciate its ability to cook at high temperatures. Chemists will appreciate it's non-combustability due its highly stable saturated hydrocarbons. Bacon-enthusiests will appreciate its bacony-goodness.
Step 3: Cut Chicken
Unfortunately this is not a meal made entirely of bacon so we'll have to put in low fat chicken breast. But don't worry - we'll add more fat later.
Step 4: Check Bacon - Possibly Sample Bacon
Look at all the great sizzling bacon fat. Bam!
Step 5: Add Chicken
Step 6: Prepare/Add Onion
(I actually cut it all before I did anything else. It's always best to have these things ready when the heat is on. You don't want to have something burn while you're busy chopping.)
Step 7: Prepare/Add Mushrooms
Now here's where you really have to start watching the bottom of the pan for the amount of oil. Chitin, the starch-like material that mushrooms are made of, soaks up fat like a sponge. I had to add about 2T/10ml of Vegetable Oil at one point when it got too dry. You want another high-temp oil here. Olive Oil and butter will not work.
Step 8: Add Peas
Peas are good in the sauce. They're a little sweet without being, well, really sweet. As they are frozen, they will cool your sauce down significantly. Crank up the heat to compensate and to boil off that pesky water.
Step 9: Garlic
Now if you walk away from this thread with anything - it should be this. This is the best way to chop up garlic. Leave the skin on. You can peel it if you want to, but this is way easier.
Smash the hell out of it with the side of your blade. Palm Strike!
The skin will basically fall off here. As an added bonus, more oil is released from the garlic making it more aromatic.
Cover it with Olive Oil and a pinch of Salt (hard to see the salt). [img]http://img176.exs.cx/img176/1250/img00263ac.th.jpg] I didn't clean the blade once while chopping this. See? Not sticky. Add the garlic to the sauce here. Adding it earlier will cause your garlic to burn with the high heat.
Step 10: Make it a white sauce
Sift flour in to the pan while stirring. Allow the flour to cook. This is where having enough fat/oil in the pan is very important. The cooked flour provides the thickness for the sauce. I ended up putting in about 4 spoon-fulls. Do this slowly to prevent clumping.
Half & Half - provides substance Milk - provides some substance but can thin the sauce out if it's getting thick Water - thin the sauce if it's getting thick (no worries if you add too much, it'll evaporate. In fact, this applies to cooking most anything as long as it doesn't have to be crispy. It took me several years to figure that out.) Flour - Can help thicken, but it's very hard to add once you have milk in as the temperature stays at or below boiling. You want to make sure you get it in there first.
Now just play it by ear.
And what food would be complete without fresh ground pepper? Using something a little more expensive than the standard McCornmick-brand peppercorns makes a difference. This is filled with Malabar peppercorns from India.
Sun-Dried tomatoes add a little color and some "zing". That's a technical term meaning acidity.
I used linguine. If you don't know how to cook pasta... there's only one solution. Reduce the sauce to low heat once you get it the way you want. Oh, and add a little salt to it. The bacon will add some, but not enough. Keep stirring it too and adding water as necessary to keep it at the thickness you want.
So here's a brief tour of the house.
This is my living room standing at the front door. That's my brother reading Tolkien and my girlfriend dutifully stirring the sauce while I play with the camera.
Here's the view from the kitchen looking back through the living room. The picture is an actual original water color and is about 6'x4'. I didn't paint it.
This is looking from the dining room back through the kitchen. To respect my girlfriend's privacy I have covered her with a THIN black box. (In case she reads this.) Why do all women think they're fat? Oh, because they eat Chicken Carbonara. Yeah - we're still unpacking.
An exciting picture of a hallway. This illustrates that I live in a 3 bedroom house.
Step 11: Finish Cooking
Here we see a final product. Note the red tint. Here would be a good point to add a bunch of parmesean cheese, though it will make cleanup much more difficult. An easier solition is to put the cheese on the table and let people help themselves. I forgot to get cheese so my pasta was a little bland.
Step 12: Presentation
Garnish with a little fresh-chopped parsley. Serving it in a white bowl helps the colors stand out.
Good food makes happy girlfriend and that, my lonely Internet-friends, has its own rewards (not pictured).
Thanks for coming to my housewarming party. It was nice having you over.