Do you ever go through phases of becoming obsessed with something? I've gone through many many of these. There was that time I accumulated a stamp collection to create homemade greeting cards. There was that time I bought all new art supplies because I was going to create my own art. Oh and how about that rock climbing phase? Yup, got the gear to prove it. The point is, I go through these phases with food as well. I would be lying if I told you I didn't have a tray of broccoli rabe every day of last week. And most recently, since an epic dinner at Coppa, I've developed an obsession with perfecting my carbonara technique. Now, now. I realize authentic carbonara is quite the controversial topic: how many eggs to use, what type of meat to have, garlic or no garlic, shallots or no shallots, etc. By no means am I professing this is authentic. (Although, I am STRONGLY against the use of cream in carbonara. Yech). In fact, the sheer fact that this recipe contains greens is a big no no. But, last week, I had this beautiful imported spaghetti and a bounty of collard greens that just begged to be paired. Before I knew it, the cheese and eggs went in to create that silky creamy light coating that carbonara is so famous for. Lots and lots of pepper topped it off for this perfectly easy, yet rich-tasting dish.
You will need (feeds 2):
- 1/2 lb spaghetti or bucattini
- 4 oz. guanciale (cured pork jowls) or pancetta
- 2 large eggs
- 1 bunch collard greens, washed and dried
- 1 small shallot, diced
- 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano and/or pecorino romano
- olive oil
- lots of freshly cracked black pepper
Bring to boil a large pot of [heavily] salted water. While you are waiting for this to boil, prepare your shallots. Then, your collard greens. Cut the leaves away from the stems. Stack these on top of each other and roll, like a cigar. Chiffonade into thin ribbons. Also, dice up the guanciale.
In a large, shallow pan, heat up some olive oil on medium high heat. Add your shallots and guanciale. Stir until brown and crispy at the edges and the mixture is fragrant. Now, add the chiffonaded collard greens. Sautee around until soft. Add a generous pinch of salt and lots of pepper. Stir it around as it wilts. Once it's cooked and soft, turn off the heat.
Once the water is boiling, add your spaghetti. Cook until just before al dente. Using tongs, add this to your sautee pan along with a 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water.
Working quickly, add your two eggs directly to the pasta. Pour the grated cheese right over. Using tongs again, break up the eggs and mix it up in the pasta, coating everything. The egg shouldn't scramble at all, since the burner is off. Be sure to constantly move the pasta around. If it gets dry at all, add more pasta water. It should be nice and glossy, as depicted in the above picture. Another generous heap of freshly cracked black pepper.
The pasta should be nice and creamy, with strong pepper flavor . Taste. Add more salt if necessary. Top with more black pepper before serving. Buon appetito!