Fancy little devils: Carbonara Deviled Eggs

Carbonara Deviled Eggs

Carbonara Deviled Eggs

I have a serious problem when it comes to deviled eggs.  It’s the same problem I have with what I call “church lady” sandwiches.  You know the ones.  Crustless, cut into fingers, often served at church picnics or after special services, scarf-able in less than two bites.

I’m hoping that I’m not alone here but the issue I tend to have is that if either of these tasty little retro treats are present at a party, I will eat my body weight in them.  The feeling I get after realizing I’ve polished off a half dozen eggs or the equivalent of three full-sized sandwiches falls somewhere between pride and shame but, in all honesty, it’s totally worth it.

In my perhaps slightly biased opinion, deviled eggs are the perfect party food.  They are salty, packed with flavour, and are just about the perfect size for guests to enjoy without hindering their ability to chit chat like some larger sized party snacks might.  The classic is a classic for a reason – everyone loves them.  But here, I make an argument for a slightly updated version. 

These carbonara deviled eggs bring together some of my favourite ingredients to work with.  Salty pecorino cheese, meaty pancetta, sooty pepper, and fresh parsley come together in that classic yolky filling to create the most scrumptious couple of bites you ever did taste! 

Give these little guys a try but just don't blame me if you pull a Mary and eat the whole lot yourself!

Carbonara Devilled Eggs

Makes 12 devilled eggs

 6 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 thin (2-3mm) slices of pancetta
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
½ teaspoon pancetta fat
2 teaspoons very finely chopped parsley, divided
¼ cup finely grated pecorino cheese, divided
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper, plus more for garnish

To hard boil your eggs, place them in a single layer on the bottom of a medium saucepan and have a tight fitting lid handy.  Add enough cool water to cover the eggs by 1.5 inches, add the vinegar, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  When the water has reached a boil, quickly cover the pot, remove from the heat, and set a timer for 13 minutes.  Allow the eggs to sit, covered, until the timer goes off then immediately drain the eggs and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Once the eggs are cool, tap them on the counter to break up the shell a bit.  I like to put a few cracks in the top and bottom of the eggs and use that little bubble area on the bottom of the egg to start peeling.

Meanwhile, cook the pancetta slices in a medium pan over medium heat until crisp.  When done, remove the pancetta and allow it to cool and reserve ½ teaspoon of the pancetta fat from the pan.  Finely chop the pancetta so that it almost resembles coarse bread crumbs and set aside, reserving about a tablespoon of the pancetta crumb for garnish.

Using a sharp knife or a piece of thread wrapped around your fingers like you would floss, slice the eggs in half from top to bottom.  Pop the yolks out of each egg and place into a small mixing bowl.  Mash the yolks with a fork and stir in the mayonnaise, pancetta fat, 1 ½ teaspoons parsley, 2 tablespoons pecorino, pancetta crumbs (other than the garnish), salt, and pepper.  Mix well until everything is nice and smooth and divide the yolk mixture back into the egg whites.  If you’re just looking to get the yolks in there, a spoon will do just fine.  If you’re going for a snazzier look, transfer the yolk mixture into a zip top plastic bag or piping bag and dollop a little swirl into each white. 

For an additional little garnish, place a nonstick skillet over medium heat and scatter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of pecorino.  Allow the cheese to melt and start to crisp.  As soon as the cheese is crispy and just slightly browned, remove it from the pan and allow the crisp to cool.  Break it up into at least 12 pieces and set aside.

When ready to serve, top each egg with a little piece of the pecorino crisp, a sprinkling of parsley, a bit of the remaining pancetta, and a bit more pepper.

Honeymooning in Rome with Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

On dreary February days such as this, I tend to find myself reminiscing about all of the delicious things I've eaten, wishing that I could just snap my fingers and have a buffet laid out with plates overflowing with every tasty morsel.  Alas, as much as I wish I were Hermione Granger or Molly Weasley, I am not.  In fact, I'm not even close as I would most definitely be placed in Hufflepuff if I were to ever get the chance to don that old Sorting Hat... 

Well, a girl can dream.  For now, I will have to settle with whipping up my own plates of deliciousness.

Today, my thoughts are filled with memories of my honeymoon.  The hubs and I went on a wee tour of Iceland, France, and Italy back in November and ate every single thing that struck our fancy.  Iceland's bounty offered up the most fantastic hearty breads and seafood, France had more butter, wine, and pastries than I could have ever imagined, and Italy's obvious prowess with pasta has yet to be surpassed.  On our first night in Rome, Aaron and I found ourselves toddling about in search of food and stumbled across a little restaurant a few blocks away from Piazza Navona.  We saw other diners voratiously digging in to plates piled high with peppery, yolky pasta topped with smokey guanciale and dusted with nutty pecornio.  Needless to say, Aaron was sold.  

While my recipe for spaghetti carbonara differs slightly from tradition by using easier to find pancetta in place of the guanciale, the hubs seems to be a pretty big fan.  This recipe is as simple as anything and brings us back to that night, sipping campari and meandering the moonlit streets of Rome.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 4

400g dry spaghetti
5 egg yolks
1 tsp salt
½ - 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
150 - 200g pancetta, sliced about 1cm thick and diced into 1cm cubes
Reserved pasta cooking water

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, pepper, pecorino, and parsley and set aside.  The mixture should be quite thick but don't worry - we'll thin it out with a little pasta water later.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the spaghetti until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, and cook the chopped pancetta until golden and crisp.  Remove the pancetta from the pan and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.  If your think you're a little shy of 2 tablespoons, pour some extra olive oil into the hot pan.

When the pasta is done cooking, scoop out about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside while you drain the spaghetti.

Remove the frying pan from the heat, carefully add the pasta and cooked pancetta, and stir to coat with the hot oil.

While the spaghetti heats , slowly dribble about 3 - 4 tablespoons of the pasta water into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to avoid curdling.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the spaghetti and mix for about 5 – 10 seconds only.  Quickly transfer everything back into the egg yolk bowl and continue to stir until each noodle is nicely coated.  This back-and-forth trick (eggs from bowl to pan to bowl) helps ensure that the sauce thickens and cooks without turning into scrambled eggs.

If your carbonara seems a bit thick, slowly add a little more of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. 

Serve topped with a little more pecorino, parsley, and black pepper for an quick, easy, and pretty darn tasty Rome-inspired dinner!