Thursday, 12 January 2012

Risoni Carbonara Style

NAME: _Risoni Carbonara Style

500g risoni or orzo pasta
1.2L chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp dried wild oregano (or dried wild thyme)
250g (1 small pack) bacon
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
about 1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar
about 1/2 cup grated parmesan
about 1.5 cups sliced mushrooms (if wanted)
about 1 cup peas

Chop the bacon crosswise into 5mm (1/4") strips, then cut the strips into 1cm length. Roughly enough will do, some size variation lends a bit of texture. Fry this in a pan over medium to high heat until the bacon starts to brown, take it out (leave the grease behind though) and drain on a slice of bread or paper towel.

Add the butter to the bacon grease, wait until the butter's stopped frothing and is starting to turn brown a bit, generally takes three minutes or so. Put the pasta in and toss to coat in butter. Add one litre of the stock, and the dried herb, bring to a fast simmer and leave it simmering until almost all the stock is absorbed. Stir it a few times as it simmers.

Meanwhile mix the egg, milk, and yoghurt in a jug and set aside. Divide the parmesan cheese into two even portions.

Test the pasta, it should be just done (al dente) - if not, add a bit of water and keep simmering until it's all absorbed and the pasta is al dente. Add the mushrooms and peas, add the milk/egg/yoghurt, add all the cheddar and one of the parmesan portions. Reduce the heat and stir until the cheese has melted through the pasta and the milk mixture has incorporated.

Put into serving bowl and top with the remaining parmesan. Serve immediately.

This is not a full-on carbonara but it's delish, I've heard of people seasoning it with salt and pepper during cooking but I let diners season it for themselves - most don't, it's just got that much flavour.

Risoni (and orzo) are small pasta shaped like long rice grains, and they must be made of pretty tough durum or semolina because they seem to take longer to cook than other pasta. They also hold their shape and texture better, which makes them so good for this dish - they don't melt into the cheesy sauce as much.

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