Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mushroom Squash Carbonara

Are you growing tired of winter yet? After all, we are in the stretch of days that most people do not like about the Midwestern winter- post-holiday excitement, not much to look forward to until St. Patty's Day? Have no worries, the days are getting longer and spring WILL be here sooner than you think. Pitchers and catchers report in less than four weeks. Although they've been reporting to Roscoe's all winter long.

In the meantime, perhaps you need to make this for dinner to enjoy a warm, comforting meal.

The original carbonara is here, if you don't jive on squash or mushrooms.

It's taken quite a few years into my adulthood to appreciate the fungus among us, the lovely mushroom. It hasn't taken nearly as long to figure out the best way to cook them. First, buy them whole and slice them yourself. The 15-second time-saver of buying pre-sliced shrooms ain't worth it. Second, never crowd the pan you cook them in- you want an even layer, they should not be all up on top of each other like a frat bar at 3AM. Thirdly, you want to cook them in a dry skillet first. Once you have liberated some of the moisture that will quickly evaporate, then you add in a little bit of fat and flavor- butter and thyme in this recipe. The dry mushroom will now be a blank canvas for whatever you like/have on hand.

You can substitute the heavy cream with half and half if desired.

Mushroom Squash Carbonara
four servings

1/2 C + 2 TB parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated of course
2 large eggs plus one yolk
3 TB heavy cream
1/4 ts freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. good bacon, sliced and cut into 1/2" pieces
3 TB shallots, minced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 C butternut squash, 1/2" cubes
1 ts thyme, dried
S&P
2 C mushrooms, sliced- baby bella or crimini or button
1 TB butter, reserved
3/4 lb fettuccine, al dente
1/3 C pasta cooking water
S&P

Add the eggs and yolk to a medium bowl, stir in 2 C of the parm regg and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, start to render some fat from the bacon pieces. After a couple minutes, toss in the shallots. Stir after another minute to distribute and flip the bacon. Stir occasionally until the bacon becomes half cooked, some four minutes later, then add the squash cubes, garlic, and thyme. Season with a bit of S&P. Cook for about another 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Get your pasta going around this point.

In a large, dry skillet over medium-low heat, add the sliced shrooms in two batches in a single layer. Flip after two minutes, then add 1/2 TB butter and a pinch of thyme. Cook for another three minutes or so until slightly browned and softened. Add to the squash mixture. Repeat for the remaining mushroom. You wanna keep an eye and stir the squash mixture here and there while doing the shrooms. If the mixture starts to become too dry, use the lid to trap some moisture. You can keep this portion steady until the fettuccine is ready, lower the heat if necessary.

When the pasta becomes al dente, drain and reserve about 1/2 C. The easiest way to throw a few TBs of pasta water in the skillet is to grab the fettucine with tongs and add them to the skillet dripping. Using this method or yours of choice, add the pasta to the skillet with the squash, about 1/3 C of water total. Stir well and remove from the heat. Add the parm regg mix and stir well to incorporate all parts. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Finish with a grating of the undisputed king of all cheeses, and please do enjoy.

A wine pairing you might need? There's never a bad time for pinot noir, or a similar lower tannin red- I like this stuff here yeah. A Cali zin would be good, a calm syrah perhaps.

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