Monday, May 7, 2012

Fettuccine with Pancetta and Mushrooms

I'm really excited about this.  Really.  Excited.  Not only will the new house have more than 1 bedroom, there's real doors to them!  A garage! A yard!!  A basement with unlimited possibilities like brewing (don't tell the wife) and canning!  All of these things are great, but I'm most excited about the kitchen.  It's not for the eat-in capabilities or the sweet pantry or the older white appliances which will one day be replaced.  What am I so super jazzed about??  The windows!  Lots of them!!  I can't wait for the natural light for capturing recipe pics.  I'm not big into food porn, as most foodies are these days, I just try and do the best with what I have, which is a nice camera but it's certainly no thousand-dollar DSLR, it's a point-and-shoot-and-eat.  Ask any photographer though, and they will tell you the most important element is the lighting.   All of my food photography, except for one zucchini dish, has been my under my kitchen ceiling flood lights, which so far has been adequate yet not astonishing.  It might take a while to get BLT up and running at the new spot, but look for a dramatic improvement to the food pics.  I'm downright giddy. 

Chicago already tried and retracted this, all because of one over-zealous politician.  Leave it up to the most regulated state in these United States to try banning this delicacy.  With the way most cattle and poultry is treated in this country, I find this utterly inane, without merit, and how would the French put it? Stupid.  Another example of the government not focusing on the more important matters in the world today and manipulating your life unnecessarily.  You won't hear me often on political rants, but whatever the organization might be- political or religious or a governing agency, don't tell me what I can't eat or when I can't eat something.  I'm like a 5 yr. old, if you tell me I can't do something it's only going to make it more appealing. 

Enough of my complaining, as I don't soon plan on finding myself in Cali with a hankering for foie gras.  So back to the recipe of this post.  This is a simple dish that has so much flavor.  There are few ingredients and you need little time for preparation.  If you like pasta, bacon, and mushrooms, this is a slam-dunk.  Perfect for a chilly/rainy weeknight dinner with a green salad and grilled garlic bread.  If you would like to serve with a glass of light red such as a Pinot Noir, it's not currently against the law.

Normally I like to serve whole-wheat pasta, but for this recipe I chose plain white fettuccine, as the lighter pasta let the light flavors of this dish shine.  Yes- bacon, butter, and cheese are 'light'.  

Fettuccine with Pancetta and Mushrooms
3 servings (means someone gets a kick-ass leftover for lunch)

12 oz. fettucine
1/2 medium onion, small dice
2 TB butter, divided
3-4 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced (rolled and sliced like basil chiffonade)
12 oz. mushrooms, sliced 1/4" thick- cremini or baby bella (button) or a mix
1/2 ts dried thyme
1 C low-sodium beef broth
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C pasta cooking water
3/4 C parmigiano reggiano, divided
2 TB fresh parsley, roughly chopped

As your salted water is heating for cooking pasta, melt 1 TB of butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once the foaming subsides, add in the pancetta and cook until nicely crisped, about 5-6 minutes.  Stir often to avoid burning the protein.  Once brown and crispy, remove and set aside on a plate.  Add in the onions, cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and almost translucent.  Push the onions to the outer edge of the skillet, add half the mushrooms so they all have good surface contact with the hot pan to brown them properly.  Cook for 2 minutes, then flip, cook for another 2 minutes and then move to the edge for the next round.  You want to retain some of the mushroom texture, cook until just browned on each side.   Now would be a good time to start cooking the fettuccine.  To the onion/shroom mix, add the thyme and a bit of black pepper, then incorporate the broth.  Scrape the pan to get all those tasty bits up in there.  Let reduce for about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn down the heat to low and add the heavy cream, cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Once the pasta is cooked, add up to a half C of the cooking water, depending on the consistency of the sauce at this point.  Add in the cooked pasta, 1/2 C of parmigiano reggiano, the pancetta, 1 TB of butter, stir well to coat the noodles.  Season to taste with S&P if necessary, top with a bit of fresh parsley and additional cheese to your liking. 

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