I have to start this post off with a couple of notes about my husband. First, he has requested that he no longer be known as Mr. Pants and go back to a name I call him elsewhere on the Internet, which is Mr. Panda. It's a reasonable request, and I'm going with it.
Second, despite swearing that he read my first post, when I told him that the base of this week's recipe was a carbonara sauce from a packet he said "Isn't that cheating?"
No. No it's not cheating, because as I said, I am not setting out to make new original recipes here. My goal is to make 52 things this year that are new to me and that are easy enough for the average person to make with no exceptional talent, skill or effort.
I do agree that if all I did was open the packet (or web recipe for that matter) and prepare the food exactly as the directions said, this would be a pointless project. I think this week's carbonara experiment is a perfect demonstration of how I'm not doing that, though. Which is exciting! Well, it's exciting to me anyway.
Third note: while this week wasn't going to be in two parts originally, it is now. If you read both parts you'll see why, I promise.
I started with a packet of Wagner's Carbonara mix. I don't remember where I picked this up, but it's been in the pantry for a few weeks. Carbonara is one of my favorite things to eat when I go out, so I figured if it was as easy to make from home (with the assistance of a packet) it would be a good thing to add to the Panda Kitchen repertoire.
Of course, I should have known better, but we'll get to that.
The packet wording suggested regular bacon as well as some vegetables and pasta. I love regular bacon on almost everything, but it seemed a little pedestrian for this. I picked up some really nice, fatty pancetta instead. For the veggies I used some mushrooms and peas.
First I pulled the pancetta to shreds with my hands. This was almost ridiculously fun, although I can't really explain why. Probably something to do with how many wayward pieces of pancetta made it to my mouth instead of the pan. The shredded pancetta then went into a hot pan and got nice and crispy.
Next, after removing the pancetta from the pan- but leaving the rendered fat behind, of course- I added the peas and mushrooms and sauteed them for about two minutes. Pancetta back into the mix and toss it all together till it looked like this:
I used fettuccine as the pasta base because of all the strand types of pasta it has my favorite consistency. Sauce, pasta, sauteed goodness and voila! We had this:
It looks very pretty, no? Sadly, it was pretty much tasteless. The peas, mushrooms and pancetta were very yummy, but the sauce was just bland. Like I said, should have known better than to try to recreate a carbonara sauce from a packet.
I won't be making this again any time soon. It was low effort, but it was also low flavor, and we Pandas can't have that.
Tomorrow: Part Two! How this experiment was redeemed!