04.29.12: dinner (drunken bucatini with poached eggs, piave, and pancetta)

Drunken Bucatini with Poached Eggs, Piave, and Pancetta.

Of the many things I miss about New York, access to the year-round greenmarkets can get really high on the list when I’m craving certain foods; namely, carbornara. It’s easy to feel confident about 99% of the foods we purchase at Fairway, but the only time a shadow of doubt crosses my mind is when I want to combine raw eggs with pasta. I was taught over our honeymoon that only the freshest eggs would do for pasta alla carbornara, so now I need to be able to know that the eggs I’m buying are fresh enough to do so–hence the need to buy directly from the farmer.

But what’s a girl to do when those greenmarkets aren’t a stone’s throw away anymore? While we aren’t horribly far from the city, it feels kind of silly to spend nearly $20 a person to go into Manhattan just to get eggs. That’s when the idea struck to add poached eggs to an otherwise simple combination of pasta, pancetta, and cheese, and that making the pasta drunken would keep things even more interesting.

Making drunken pasta may seem overly fussy when you’re trying to find an alternative to traditional carbornara, but I was feeling creative and it had literally had been years since I last enjoyed spaghetti cooked in red wine. And the nice thing about nesting the poached eggs in the pasta instead of bathing the whole pan in raw egg is that it’s much easier to make what you need for the meal and then make more poached eggs for subsequent helpings. So it’s really a drunken pasta dish with the option to turn it into quasi-carbornara that feels a little more satisfying when you’re trying to reduce the amount of meat you’re eating.

And really, what’s not to like?

Drunken Bucatini with Poached Eggs, Piave, and Pancetta

serves 2 with leftover pasta

  • 1 bottle plus one one cup dry red wine
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 lb bucatini
  • 1/2 lb pancetta, cubed
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 cup piave cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • Splash of white vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Poach the eggs: bring a small saucepan filled with water and a splash of white vinegar to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Create a vortex in the pan using a whisk, then drop in an egg and let cook for 2 minutes undisturbed. Remove and place in a shallow bowl with a spider, and cook the remaining eggs in the same way. Keep warm while you cook the pasta.

Combine wine and water into stock pot, and generously season the mixture with kosher salt and bring to a boil. (Note: if you add the salt when the water/wine mixture is boiling, it will get a bit agitated.)  Add the bucatini, and cook until it is slightly less than al dente, following package directions.  Instead of draining the pasta, keep the wine/water mixture in the event you need it for the sauce, but take it off the burner.

Before the pasta is done, add the olive oil, pancetta and garlic to a saute pan on medium low heat.  The idea here is to render the fat out of the pancetta and to cook the garlic to a slight golden brown. Rendering will take about 10 minutes or so, and then add the garlic and cook for another minute. You will then want to add the pasta back into the pan with the cup of red wine, and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed (but keep in mind, the point here is to get a taste of the “raw” wine), and add the cheese, salt and pepper to the total mix.  Toss again, then serve, nestling two of the poached eggs per serving.

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