We live in one of those “transitional neighborhoods”. Somehow, when other people talk about their experiences in similar cities, they make it sound exciting, adventurous, chic even. However, the reality is that living in a tremendously diverse neighborhood that struggles with poverty, drug use, gang activity, and the tensions of different socioeconomic groups living next door to each other can be a struggle.
The benefits are of course the wonders of walking around and hearing five different languages being spoken; of not looking like everybody else; of not feeling like you’re living some homogenized plastic life; and of course, there is the food. All sorts of different cuisines and traditions, melding together, to create the ultimate proverbial smorgasbord.
One favorite spot in the ‘hood is our local Italian hole in the wall, Vinces. Complete with fake brick paneling, individually wrapped bread sticks, and a hostess who seems to have been there since they opened in 1957 it is the perfect spot to disappear to for an oversized and underpriced plate of pasta.
My favorite, is by far, the Carbonara. Pasta, cream, egg, cheese, pancetta. What’s not to love?
Determined one night to make my own, I found just the recipe. Good, cheap, and fast it is the perfect weeknight dish when you’re feeling like something delicious yet not overly complicated.
6 ounces bucatini or perciatelli (I can never find this, so just use angel hair which is great).
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until most of the fat has been rendered, 7 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the cream and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the hot pasta to the skillet and stir to coat, 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water, the 2 tablespoons of grated cheese and the egg yolks. Season with salt. Divide the pasta into bowls and sprinkle with parsley and pepper. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.
Serve with your favorite Montepulciano for the perfect pairing.
Compliments of Food and Wine