Friday, May 18, 2012

Food Fridays: Spaghetti Carbonara with chicken and asparagus

This is by far one of my favorite quick-dinners, because I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand, and it's easy, and it's delicious. Once again, I've adapted a Rachael Ray recipe to include fewer of her crazy ingredients. And I added chicken and veggies to make this a more filling meal.


Ingredients (makes enough for four):
- 1/3 package of bacon
- 1/2 pound chicken breast, diced
- garlic powder
- 16-oz box of spaghetti or linguine
- about 4-6 stalks of asparagus
- olive oil (I like to use an arbequina oil, but extra virgin works too)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine, cooking sherry or chicken stock
- 2 large egg yolks (keep the whites for omelets!)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- red pepper flakes (optional)

Start with a large stock pot of water. Set it over high heat and bring it up to a hard boil. While the water's heating, cook the bacon in the biggest skillet you have until it's good and crispy. When it's done, set the bacon on paper towels to drain, and drain out most of the bacon grease. Leave about a tablespoon or so. Add the diced chicken to the pan, season with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and cook through. When it's done, remove the chicken from the pan and onto a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Return the skillet to the oven and add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using. Add a little olive oil if the pan needs it.

By now your water should be boiling. Add a small palmful of salt, then add the noodles. While those are cooking, crumble the bacon you set aside and add it and the chicken pieces back to the skillet with the garlic and pepper flakes. Add the wine/sherry/chicken stock and let it reduce by half, which should take about a minute or two over medium-high heat.

Drop the asparagus into the pasta water and let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Remove it, chop it into pieces about an inch long, and add to the skillet with everything else. (Note: Frozen peas also work well for this. Just let them thaw a little first, then boil for a few minutes with the pasta then add to the skillet to finish cooking.)

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. While you're whisking, add a small ladle-full (about 1/4 cup or so) of the boiling pasta water.

Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Remove from heat. Drizzle the egg mixture over everything, then add the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat for about two minutes to let the pasta soak up all the sauce. (I usually like to pour everything into the big stock pot to toss it, but if you can manage in your skillet that works too.) Serve with extra cheese and sprinkle with some chopped parsley, if you like.

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