Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Big Bowl of Comfort

This Monday night, the New Orleans Saints crushed the New England Patriots in a game that put us one step closer to a black and gold Superbowl. The next day, the Patriots exacted revenge by sending their crappy Boston weather down here, in the form of freezing temperatures and all-day rain. Ugh.

On days like that, the only thing I want to eat is comfort food. To me, comfort is served best in a bowl of steaming hot pasta, so that's what I made. I should mention that I left town for five days for Thanksgiving, and the weather was absolutely not encouraging me to make the trek to Rouses. I got to work with what I had around the kitchen: orzo (small, rice-like pasta), a few vegetables, staples like chicken broth/garlic/seasoning, and -- always -- bacon.

Sounded like the makings of a carbonara to me. I didn't have eggs, but you could certainly try the recipe below with egg mixed in to create more of a true carbonara. The result I got was filling, hot and delicious, and managed to be exactly what I wanted on a freezing day. It was also pretty simple.

What I used: half an onion; 1.5 tsp pre-chopped garlic (or 1-2 cloves); 2 tbs olive oil; 3 cups chicken broth; 1 cup orzo (uncooked); 4-5 slices bacon; half a cup of Romano cheese (Parmesan would be excellent as well); 1 cup broccoli florets (steamed); salt and pepper.

What I did:
  1. Heat olive oil in a pan (one that will eventually need to fit 3 cups of liquid and 1 cup of pasta).
  2. Chop up the onion and garlic (unless you've discovered the miracle of pre-chopped garlic) and throw into pan w/ hot olive oil.
  3. Sauté until onion is soft, three to five minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, covered.
  5. Once the broth is boiling, add the orzo. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until pasta is al dente.
  6. While orzo is cooking, steam or boil your broccoli. I only had frozen broccoli on hand, but it worked well. Drain and set aside.
  7. Also take a minute to cook your bacon in a skillet, or microwave it. This was lunch, not a fancy dinner, so I didn't feel terribly guilty about microwaving mine. Peter & Rene would likely kill me for this.
  8. When the pasta is done, drain off any excess liquid (if necessary). Return to original pot; stir in Romano or Parmesan cheese. It should get nice and gooey. Then add broccoli and bacon and stir well.
  9. Serve it up and top with salt and pepper to taste. Crushed red pepper would also be a tasty addition.
Bon Appetit! Let's hope this awful weather goes right back where it came from, stat.


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