Eventually, this badly lit and shaky camera-ed new vision of the left side of Nigella Lawson’s face appeared on screen (no really, does anyone else feel utterly claustrophobic watching her new show?), the last thing I needed in my surely vertigoed state but there she was all ochre-lit with her smashing peas, golden olive oil drops from a kettle, scraped tins, lusty eggs, cooking for two although she has no intentions of sharing and insisting you eat certain dishes right there, from the pot, over the stove and I had this vision of cubes of crisped bacon and whisked eggs tangled up and knotted around steaming pasta then showered with parmesan and grindings of black pepper and I knew, I finally knew what could pry me off that sofa.
But first — a walk! Sure, it was already 3 p.m. but a 60 degree day in the last week of November is not to be wasted on the, well wasted. We headed downtown along the Hudson, the sun in our faces and delicious fall air in our lungs, passing first one then another Soprano less than a mile apart and we were almost down to Battery Park when I realized I’d forgotten to put my sling on. Tsk! I must be cured. On the way home, we hit the store for not Nigella’s but Florence Fabricant’s fettuccine dish I’d bookmarked some weeks back, and just an hour later it was in our bellies. The pasta pits meaty porcini against smoky pancetta broken up with discs of garlic and then brings the whole thing back together with an egg. A half recipe was the perfect amount for the two of us without feeling excessive, because god knows we had enough of that last night. But, it didn’t mean I didn’t wish we’d picked up some red wine. I never learn.
Fettuccine with Porcini
Adapted from The New York Times, 11/1/06
Takes about 1 hour | Serves 4
2 ounces dried porcini
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound fresh fettuccine
4 eggs at room temperature, beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving.
1. Place porcini in a bowl, cover with about 1 cup warm water, and soak 30 minutes. Drain well, straining liquid into large measuring cup. Place porcini on several thicknesses of paper towel, cover with paper towel and press to remove moisture. Cut very large pieces in half.
2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet large enough to hold pasta for 4 servings. Add pancetta and sauté until barely beginning to brown. Add garlic and sauté another minute or so.
3. Add porcini and cook until heated through and beginning to brown. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper. Warm 4 plates.
4. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. Cook pasta about 3 minutes and drain well. Transfer to skillet, add remaining oil, and cook over low heat to incorporate and heat ingredients. Gradually add 3/4 cup porcini liquid. When some has been absorbed, remove pan from heat. Add eggs and fold together quickly, to warm eggs without scrambling them. Add a little more liquid if needed. Immediately divide among plates and garnish with parsley. Serve at once with cheese alongside.