Spaghetti Carbonara

When I was in college, I read Ruth Reichel’s book Garlic and Sapphires. It was assigned reading for some class, though I can’t remember what course I took where reading a food critic’s book would have been an appropriate assignment.

In the same class, I read a book about a woman who spent some time as a flight attendant. She may or may not have liked being a flight attendant.

Clearly that class really prepared me for the world.

Anyway.

Ruth Reichel, acclaimed author and chef, wrote in her book that her favorite go-to meal when she needed something fast was spaghetti carbonara. She described it in the book. It sounded gross.

It took me until two years ago to decide to try it, and two years to get to a happy place with my recipe.

I won’t lie, this is probably the quickest pasta dish I’ve ever made, the ingredients are all things I nearly always have on hand, and it tastes great. My husband (who loves pasta in any form, for any meal, under any circumstance) agrees.

We’re prepping to leave for an adventurous vacation (sorry to my three dedicated readers, blog posts will be few and far between for a few weeks – pictures after!), and I happened to have some bacon that needed eating in the fridge (I know). So this was about the most convenient Sunday night meal I’ve ever made.

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Seriously, this is your sauce: eggs and parmesan cheese. Maybe some salt + pepper.

While the pasta is boiling, beat two eggs and some parmesan cheese together, and crisp up some garlic-y bacon.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve graced this blog with a gratuitous bacon shot.

Once the pasta is cooked, everything needs to be combined quickly. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. Cold pasta won’t cook anything, so, you know – stir fast!

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I used angel hair pasta, which I don’t remember buying, but had an open box of. Use whatever pasta you like (spaghetti being the “correct” choice).

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Dump sauce on hot pasta.

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Engage tongs to mix.

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Add bacon. And some more parm. And some parsley.

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Dinner!

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World’s Easiest Pulled Pork

Lately, I’ve been lamenting that we ran out of our favorite barbecue sauce. It’s from a wing joint in Pittsburgh, Sidelines, that we became aware of after it placed second in a local “best wings in Pittsburgh” contest. (It was robbed, they have the first best wings in Pittsburgh. And everywhere.)

The hot garlic barbecue sauce they make is ah-mah-zing. (My husband also likes the hot, but it’s too hot for me.) And they make like a bazillion other flavors, some of which we’ve tried during trips back to Pittsburgh, so far, all good.

As a wedding gift, a friend gave us two GROWLERS full of my favorite sauce (and two smaller bottles of the hot). And it has finally run out. We tried to get more the last time we were in Pittsburgh, but we forgot to bring our empties and they were out of bottles. Enter sadness. And inability to eat barbecue sauce-requiring foods.

Until Christmas, when we were gifted a bottle of local craft sauce. Barbecue back on the menu. My husband also got his new kegerator set up, so we now are the beer-on-tap-at-home family.

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It’s a little over the top, but not all bad. (Plus the husband promised to take care of all cleaning and whatnot, so win-win for me!)

If that wasn’t enough, the local Harris Teeter decided to give away pork shoulder earlier this month. Such a sale they practically paid me to take it off their hands. YESPLEASE!

So, pulled pork it would be.

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To add to my delight, pulled pork is super easy to make. At least the way I make it.

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Rub it down with some spices.

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Cover the whole thing in beer and cook it low and slow – 8 hours later, you will have delicious pork.

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Nothing wrong with that!

I used my roast lifters (this is really what they are called, I checked) to get it out of the crock pot since it’s a. hot, b. heavy, c. FALLING apart at the slightest touch.

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It is so easy to pull (or in my case chop) at this point. This picture doesn’t really do it justice, but the bone was CLEAN.

Then toss it with your favorite barbecue sauce (or in my case, the new sauce I was cheating on my favorite with) and serve however you like!

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Don’t tell my Sidelines sauce… but this was good too. It has a nice mustard-y flavor to it, which made it really unique.

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For the first night (since this makes approximately 12,098 servings of pulled pork), I served it on sesame seed buns with pickle slices and cheddar cheese. And it was delish. The next night, I made a pizza… recipe to come.

I still have enough leftover to feed the entire cast of Newsies. And I assume those tween/teen boys were hungry after all that singing and dancing.

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Bacon-Wrapped Salmon (for breakfast!)

I’m clearly in a bacon rut. I would say it was becoming a problem if it wasn’t so freaking delicious.

I’ve also been in a brinner rut. Wherein I eat primarily eggs and toast every day. If only I could come up with a clever name for it, I could call it a diet, sell a book and retire (the working-from-home-but-too-busy-to-make-anything-but-eggs-and-toast-diet?).

Given the two ruts, it should not come as a surprise that I made salmon, wrapped it in bacon and topped it with a fried egg for dinner a few nights ago. In my defense, it was a more interesting meal than yet another night of Thanksgiving leftovers.

I started out wanting to make salmon.

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So I got some salmon and started to sear it.

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Then I decided to wrap it in bacon.

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And then finish cooking these gorgeous meats in the oven.

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And then top the whole thing with a fried egg.

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I guess I’ve had worse ideas, right?

When I first made this, I served it over a toasted English muffin (as pictured). My husband informed me that this was not enough food. So the next time I made it (I told you, a rut!), I made some tasty parmesan grits and served the salmon over the grits. I highly recommend this, just didn’t get any pictures!

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One[ish] Pan Pork Fried Rice

When staring down a kitchen remodel, you have two choices. Resign yourself to eating out/ordering in for weeks on end, or figure out a way to cook without fancy things like sinks and counters (and with more dust than you’ve ever imagined).

While we would still have access to our grill, we are strictly speaking charcoal people, which is not the most convenient option for throwing together a quick meal. Though it is delicious.

That left me with figuring out some food prep options. Lots of food prep options. Like a TON of food prep options. Some basics, like lasagna (recipe to come) were old favorites and obvious choices. Others were new. Enter: pork fried rice.

It turned out to be an excellent choice. The rice stores well in the fridge or freezer and reheats easily in the microwave (just add a bit of water to soften the rice). It is crazy easy to make and one batch makes enough to feed approximately 132 people. Or about eight people as a main dish. It’s also delicious!

The one[ish] pan comes from the fact that everything but the rice is done in one pan. I do the rice ahead of time in a rice cooker. So, technically a two pan dish. Still pretty good.

Chop up some bacon and cook it to a crisp in a large pan. I use a deep saute pan, and it is FULL by the end. Gratuitous bacon shot:

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Ohhhh yeah.

While the bacon is cooking, prep the veggies: chop an onion, get the rest out of the freezer. I actually had fresh instead of frozen carrots on hand, so I chopped those up too. Buying a bag of mixed frozen veggies (corn, peas, carrots, whatever) actually works really nicely for this recipe if you’re in a rush.

Take the cooked bacon out of the pan and drain out -most- of the bacon grease. I left about a tablespoon, maybe a little less. Add sesame oil to the pan and toss in the garlic and all those veggies.

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Let the veggies cook until soft. The carrots will take the longest. At this size, it took about 10 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

Gently beat 2 eggs in a small bowl. Once the veggies are soft, push them to one side of the pan and add the eggs. Let them cook for 30 seconds or so and then stir to combine the veggies and eggs.

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Once the eggs are incorporated, turn the heat off but leave the pan on the burner. Add the rice, bacon, soy sauce and sriracha.

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If you generally do not like spicy things, be gentle with the sriracha. It is HOT. And two tablespoons is not a small amount of hot sauce. Similarly, if you are sensitive to salt, be careful with the soy sauce. Add half of hot/salt and taste before adding the rest. I like heat and LOVE salt, so there you go.

Stir this concoction together, being sure to combine the rice and sauces really well. I have to stir very carefully – see how full the pan is? So much yum, the pan can barely handle it. Season with salt and pepper (or more hot sauce) to taste, and SERVE!

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Note the extra sriracha added for my husband’s benefit.

I like to serve this as a main dish. Mostly because I can never eat just one bowl and two bowls full of bacon, rice, eggs and veggies is actually quite filling. But it could easily be a side dish – and then you would have even more awesome leftovers!

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