Chicken “Carbonara,” or, How to Make Do With What is in the Pantry

The other night I went to make dinner and I was missing several key ingredients.  I didn’t have cream to make a creamy sauce, I didn’t have tomato sauce to make a red sauce, and I couldn’t figure out what to make with my thawed chicken thighs.  I visited Pioneer Woman for some ideas, and decided to try an extremely modified carbonara.  Using this as a starting point, I gathered together these guys:

Not shown: two eggs,  olive oil, spaghetti (or whatever long noodle pasta you like), and a couple of tablespoons of butter

 

First, season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Put the chicken into a deep skillet skin side down.  Let it brown really well and then flip to the other side.  Check out my new splatter shield!  Favorite kitchen gadget.  I am freakishly afraid of being splattered on.

While the chicken is cooking, dice up your onion and mince your garlic (or cheat, like me, and use the stuff in the jar).  Also, grate your parmesan cheese.  You’ll need about 3/4 of a cup. Once the chicken is done, transfer it to a plate and drain all but a tablespoon or two of the fat from the pan.

Saute the diced onion in the chicken fat and after a minute or two add the garlic as well.  Saute until translucent.

Thus endeth almost all of my useful pictures.

Go ahead and get your pasta going at this point.  I used spaghetti, cooked to the instructions on the box.

With a slotted spoon, remove the onion and garlic from the pan and add in your mushrooms.  Brown them up nicely and remove them from the pan as well.

Deglaze the pan with about a cup of wine and let it reduce til it’s almost gone, then add in a cup of stock (note: I think chicken stock would be preferable, but I was working out of the pantry and we didn’t have any).  At this point, add your garlic, onions and mushrooms back in and let simmer.

Now here’s where things get weird.  In a separate, large bowl (big enough to fit everything including your pasta) beat together your cheese and your two eggs.  As soon as your pasta is finished, drain it and dump it, piping hot, on top of the egg/cheese mixture.  Immediately add the onion/mushroom/stock sauce to the top to the bowl along with about 3 tablespoons of butter.  With tongs, briskly toss everything together for a few minutes until it all comes together and looks nice and creamy.

Top with pine nuts, more parmesan and some pepper and next to your crispy chicken and I promise, as bad as that last picture is, it was quite good!

And yes, it would have been nice to have a finished product photo here.  No, I don’t have one.  I think my camera died before I had a plate ready.  At least, that is the most likely explanation.

 

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