Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pies, Damned Pies, And Statistics

Remember that silky squash soup? Me neither. But in the fridge it lurked, and since exactly zero shopping has taken place since that post, I'm still in Pantry Embellishment Mode™. While tart crust is pretty easy, as we work our way down the hierarchy of staples (it's like the circle of fifths) the pickings become slimmer and the labor required to produce a good meal increases along a curve of some sort. Ask someone who is good at math, or has too much time on his or her hands, or both. At the end of the curve (nice asymptote!) one finds oneself making adzuki-anchovy loaf garnished with freezer-burned corn, but here in the creamy middle, luxuriating in the presence of eggs, the sky is the limit.

So it was in this egg-potentiated tizzy that I seized upon the idea of a carbonara. First, a simple pasta dough enlivened with a goose of squash soup and unified with a rest in the fridge. Second, while the dough rested, a good mince of onion and guanciale to commingle in a pan until transparent, followed by garlic and a pinch of woody herbs. Then a splash of wine, the rest of the squash soup, a grate of Parmigiano, and a gentle simmer to thicken. Squash soup is a brilliant substitute for cream for things like this: unctuous, sweet, and mouth-filling, yet guiltless.

While the sauce reduced and united, Milo and I cranked out the pasta. He's actually quite good at it, even helping to separate the reluctant strands of fettucine. We tossed it in boiling water, then fished it out and agitated it into the sauce with a handful of peas. Garnished with naught but good black pepper and a bottle of Pleiades (XVI, to celebrate the coming of the XVII) it satisfied and delighted. There are four more hog jowls drying over the sink, which is good, because I used just about the last of the previous batch of guanciale in this and would dearly hate to run out. Along with eggs, this would be one of my desert island pantry items; it makes so many wonderful things possible.


Jo said...

I want to never ever be out of guanciale, it makes everything taste better.

cook eat FRET said...

hello there beautiful pasta dish... i want you. because you're so incredibly amazing - in every way. and you're not fat. which i really respect in a pasta.

you will be mine.

Zoomie said...

If I talk now, the drool will run out onto my keyboard so I am respectfully silent.

Brittany said...

I think that would hit the same confort button as the mac & cheese with frozen peas (and a can of tuna if we were feeling like splashing out) that my sister and I used to eat while watching Threes Company.

But you know. Classier.
And healthier.
And obvioulsy, tastier.

11:36 AM

The Spiteful Chef said...

I've turned so many soups into sauces. They're really not that different, just different concentrations of flavor (obviously you know this already). Anyway, it always amazes me. Especially when applied to french onion soup leftovers, reduced to top a roast beef. Mmmmmmm.

peter said...

Jo: Me neither. It sure does.

Claudia: PLUS, there were only two eggs in the pasta.

Zoomie: They have plastic covers for that.

Brittany: Did you ever see Bad Santa? John Ritter was in it right before he died. Pure genius.

Kristie: There's just something about caramelized onions and beef. It's the umami.