Something up Our Sleeves
By Garrett Oliver
The flavors of the dark malts and candi sugar meld perfectly with the flavors of the pancetta and cheese. You’ll be astounded by how good this pairing is (then again, it does have bacon in it, so it’s no surprise).
Cut your pancetta or bacon into little chunks (lardons). They should be about the size and shape of a one-inch piece off the end of a McDonald’s French fry (don’t pretend you’ve never seen one).
In a heavy pan, fry the pancetta gently. When it starts to turn golden, add the shallots and stir them in. Being careful not to burn the pancetta or shallots, cook them until they reach a nice mahogany brown color. Drain off the fat, put the pancetta into a bowl, set it aside.
To a large plastic bowl, add the cheese, the butter next to it, and pour in the cream next to that.
Now add the yolk (only) of one of the eggs.
Put everything in the fridge, covered; you can do all this hours before dinnertime. When your guests arrive, get the pasta pot going and put the pasta bowls in the oven, “warm” setting.
When you’re ready, take the big bowl out of the fridge, put it on the counter and stick the bowl of pancetta mixture into the microwave.
At the boil, with plenty of salt in the water, add your pasta, stirring occasionally until it floats free. Have a beer with your guests, but start checking the pasta at about seven minutes.
Break up the egg yolk in the bowl. Microwave your bowl of pancetta mixture for 30 seconds to re-heat it, then set it next to the bowl of other ingredients.
Have a cup of hot water standing by. When the pasta is ready (still slightly stiff, but not crunchy – al dente), strain it in a colander and, without rinsing it, add it immediately to the big bowl full of sauce ingredients.
With two big spoons (wood is best), start aggressively mixing it all together with a tossing motion as if you were tossing a salad. The butter, cream, and egg yolk will meld together and become a rich cream sauce (ta-daaa!).
Add in the pancetta mix and keep mixing. If the sauce seems stiff, add a little water until it hits a nice consistency. Add salt to taste if necessary.
Get your bowls out of the oven, and use tongs to put the pasta into the bowls. It’s a rich dish, so let’s not over-do it; a “small fist” of pasta is plenty.
Serve immediately with a Belgian-style dark abbey ale or Brooklyn Local 2.