For my first January recipe challenge, I roasted a whole chicken and made spaghetti carbonara from scratch.
While it was *technically* in the last hours of 2013, I’m going to count it. It’s my tradition to cook a fancy meal for myself on New Year’s Eve – the meditative nature of cooking has always been relaxing for me and I like carving out a time to be reflective on the precipice of the new year.
2013 was an intense year for me. It felt like just about everything happened – big breakup, big empowerment, lots of dates and great new friends, heart surgery, lots of time outdoors, and a lot of finding myself. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.
For the chicken:
1 small chicken, 3-5 lbs (I like the ones at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 tbs whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 tbs each freshly ground pepper and kosher salt, mixed, for rubbing on chicken after brining
Several hours ahead, brine the chicken. Dissolve the salt in a few quarts of water in a large pot with a lid. Halve the lemon and squeeze into the water, then drop it in. Add the peppercorns and bay leaf, then lower in the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for an hour and a half. Drain and rinse the chicken, and pat completely dry with paper towels.
Rub the chicken inside and out with your salt and pepper mixture. Put the chicken in the fridge until you’re ready to roast it—this time will allow the chicken to dry out so the skin will get nice and crispy.
Roast the chicken. Preheat the oven to 500°. Bring your chicken out of the fridge and place it breast side up in an oven proof pot. Roast the chicken for an hour. It will sizzle loudly!
Lift the chicken out of the roasting pan and onto a plate. Cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes or so, til you’re ready to serve. Make a sauce with pan drippings if you like, just add some white wine and water, heat to reduce.
adapted from here
For the carbonara:
3-4 oz. pancetta, diced
1 large shallot, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb dried spaghetti (I’m as big a fan of fresh pasta as anyone, but dried works better for this)
1 bunch lacinato, chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus more for passing)
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese (plus more for passing)
Freshly ground black pepper
While the chicken is roasting, place a huge nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and saute until beginning to brown and fat is rendering, about 3 minutes. Add the shallot and stir for 2 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, scraping up the delicious browned bits, for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the frying pan from the heat.
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti, stir well, and cook for 6 minutes. Add the kale and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 4 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, in a small-ish bowl, add the eggs and beat with a fork. Mix in both cheeses and a generous amount of pepper. Try not to eat this amazing mixture right now.
Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta. Reheat the pancetta mixture briefly, and then remove from the heat. Add the spaghetti and kale to the frying pan. Gradually whisk 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking liquid into the egg mixture to render it (you don’t want scrambled eggs!). Add the egg mixture to the frying pan and stir until it coats the pasta and is creamy, not wet and runny. Tongs are helpful here.
If the egg mixture does not become creamy, set the frying pan over very low heat and stir constantly just until it becomes creamy, watching carefully (do not boil). Immediately remove the frying pan from the heat. Mix in enough of the remaining 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to form a silky texture.
Divide between 2 warmed bowls and serve right away with moist slices of chicken. Serves 2+.
adapted from here