Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lemons and Walnuts and Carbonara Sauce... oh my!

Every time the husband and I go to our favorite Italian restaurant I order the tortelloni with carbonara sauce. I "ooh" and "ahh" over the rich, creamy sauce. I sop up every last drop with a hunk of bread. I always tell my husband "this sauce is all I need for the rest of my life" to which he literally laughs out loud at me. But do I care? No way. Because I'm in love with carbonara sauce.

Truth be told, I have always been a bit apprehensive about making it at home. I consider myself a fairly good home cook but the thought of my dream meal turning in to pasta with scrambled eggs in a cream sauce worried my little carbonara loving heart. Then there was last night when I decided to go for the gold and let me tell you... I sure am glad that I did. The sauce came together beautifully with it's decadent heavy cream and panchetta base. I did, however, varry slightly from the traditional sauce and added some lemon zest & juice as well as some walnuts for that extra little crunch. I also knew that my meat loving husband would need some form of protein so I baked off a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts (seasoned with olive oil, salt & pepper) and then shredded them and added them into the mix.

Enjoy :)

Lemon Walnut Chicken Carbonara
(adapted from Giada DeLaurentis)

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
4 egg yolks
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 pound pasta (I used mezza rigatoni)
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1/2 a lemon

Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and garlic and saute until it is brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, cheese, yolks, basil, and parsley to blend.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until it is just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Add the chicken to the pan with the pancetta and stir to combine. Next, add the cream mixture and toss over medium-low heat until the chicken is heated through.

Sprinkle the lemon zest, walnuts, and juice from the 1/2 lemon. Stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss so that the pasta is coated with sauce (do not boil or you might end up scrambling the eggs). Let simmer on low heat for 5 minutes before serving.

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