Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ham Carbonara Recipe

I am planning a very exclusive meal for the Friday of LM's visit. There may well be gilded invitations and some kind of brute squad at the door barring entry to individuals without said invitations. On the menu is spaghetti carbonara with ham (don't worry sister, I'm not going to make a habit of preparing it that way). Neither LM or EW are particular fans of lardons, but LM has a stated liking for carbonara with ham, so I'm going to give it a try.

When I started researching this preparation, I realized that I don't actually know exactly what ham is. For some weird reason we never ate it when I was a kid and I guess I've just consequently avoided it as an adult. It probably stems back to my mom's cattle ranch up-bringing and distrust of non-beef meats. The internets tell me it is a cured thigh or rump of pork, so apparently I can obtain it already cooked! Then just dice it up and toss it in the sauce. I am also considering substituting prosciutto di parma instead. Apparently what makes a prosciutto di parma a prosciutto di parma and not just a ham is that the prosciutto is actually grown in parma and then cured following the parma-ese curing procedure. EW should be relieved to know that real prosciutto di parma includes no nitrates, which I'm sure can NOT be said for any american cured ham.

I've combined my research on this preparation, the stated preferences of the guests, and my past carbonara making experience to suggest a recipe to try.


1 tablespoon butter
.5 lb frozen peas
1 cup cream
2 eggs
5 oz parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra as garnish
1/3 cup finely chopped chives
3 cloves garlic
1 lb dried spaghetti, cooked
.5 lb ham [probably prosciutto], chopped


-- Cook spaghetti to al dente, adding in peas 4 minutes before pasta is done.
-- Melt butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sautee garlic, add mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove and keep warm.
-- Combine cream, eggs, three quarters of the parmesan, chives, and salt and pepper.
-- Place pasta into a saucepan. Add egg mixture, mushrooms and ham. Toss over low heat until sauce thickens. Season. Serve with remaining parmesan.

Serves 4.

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