Friday, June 27, 2014

So Fancy: Crab Carbonara with Meyer Lemons, Black Pepper, and Parsley

One of my New Year's Resolutions this year was to connect more with my "San Diego" family.  A couple of my younger cousins are living here and I wanted to take advantage of that fact.  Thatmom has always been the rubber band that brings this family together, stretching across states and time zones to make sure Thatbrother and I always had a sense of who we were and where we came from.  I want to do the same for Thatbaby.  I want him to grow up not knowing or caring that there's a difference between 1st and 2nd cousins, because we're just as close with all of them.

Since both my San Diego cousins are young men, I figured I could tempt them with promises of a home-cooked meal, and the an open invitations for their girlfriends.  Date night with free food!

Mustang has been especially receptive to my family dinners.  Which is good, because Thatbaby loves Mustang and his girlfriend.  It is the highlight of the month when they come over for dinner.  For me, I spend the week before brainstorming what to make.  I'm sure I could order pizza and everyone would be happy, but they can get pizza any night of the week, so I always want to make something that they're less likely to make on their own.  Of course, I always end up with grand plans, like last weekend when I asked Thatboy if a cheese souffle would be a good choice for family dinner.  He thought I'd be better off playing it safe, something that two college kids would be more interested in. But, he loved the idea of a souffle and asked if we could put it on the menu for another time (we did - I'll post that soon, because OMG it was gorgeous AND delicious).  That's how this crab carbonara came about.

Carbonara is not one of those universally adored pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese or spaghetti and meatballs.  The sauce, comprised of egg essentially cooked by the hot pasta makes some people squeamish.  And although Thatboy and I are big fans of sweet sweet crab, not everyone loves it like we do.  So put the two together and you have a dish that is decidedly hit or miss.  So this didn't make it to family dinner, but went on the menu for when it was just the three of us.  The meyer lemon helps to add a real summery flavor, and a quick burst of sweet acid to the dish.  Plus, I love using meyer lemons when I can get my hands on them!

Crab Carbonara with Meyer Lemon, Black Pepper, and Parsley (from the James Beard Foundation)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced pancetta
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 pinch Old Bay seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound lump crabmeat
Zest of 3 Meyer lemons, 1 lemon reserved
8 ounces dry spaghetti
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup toasted bread crumbs 
  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté just until beginning to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté until the shallots are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 
  3. Whisk together the eggs, Parmesan, parsley, Old Bay, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. 
  4. Add the contents of the sauté pan and whisk. 
  5. Add the crabmeat, Meyer lemon zest, and the juice from one of the lemons. Whisk to combine.
  6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and immediately add the hot pasta to the bowl containing the egg, cheese, pancetta and crab. 
  7. Add the butter, then toss the pasta quickly and thoroughly to make sure all of the strands are coated and that the ingredients are well combined. 
  8. To serve, sprinkle toasted bread crumbs over the pasta.

1 comment:

  1. I really want to host dinner parties more..wish I had more relatives in the near area to cater to (literally!). I'm sure your cousins really appreciate it!!