Tuesday, March 4, 2008

3:10 to YUM!

Last night I attempted something new. I cooked two things I have never cooked before.
1) Pancetta. This isn't a seriously outlandish thing to cook, but I have never tried to cook it...even though I have deliriously wanted to after watching "Everyday Italian".
2) Scallops. Honestly, cooking this type of seafood intimidated me...I don't know why, but I was actually frightened at the thought of over or under cooking these delicate little morsels of flavor.

All fears aside, I mapped out my plan of attack. Armed with 1/4 pound of pancetta, 1 pound of collosal sea scallops, some fresh (organic) spinach, fresh garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and some fetuccine...I dove into the kitchen. (oh! And a bottle of Toasted Head Chardonnay).

First things first...started the water to boil for the pasta. Then carefully sliced the garlic into perfect slivers of goodness. I also took the pancetta and cut it into gorgeous little cubes. I heated up a cast iron pan and dropped the pancetta into it. Sizzle, pop, aromas...yum! That stuff smelled SO good. Pancetta is pretty much a cured, Italian style bacon, with a nice seasoning to it. I cooked the pancetta until it was kinda crispy and brown on the outside. Then I removed the pancetta from the cast iron and dropped in the garlic slivers. Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh lordy that smells fantastic. I cooked the garlic until it was translucent and occasionally brown on the edges, then removed it to the same bowl where I had the pancetta waiting. By this time, the water was boiling and I tossed some fetuccine in the boiling, salty water. I threw some of the cooked pancetta and garlic into a larger pan with some olive oil and then threw a few handfuls of fresh spinach leaves on top. Just cooking this till it wilts.
As my pasta and spinach cooked, I enlisted the help of my very tall - very adorable - boyfriend to help me test the scallop cooking premise. We heated the pan and carefully placed one of the shimmery globs into it. We cooked it until each side had a crispy brown crust and the middle was opaque. We took a few bites. SCORE! (I wanted to test one before throwing the rest in the pan!) We cooked up the rest of the scallops...and while they were sizzling away, I drained the cooked pasta and put it in a big bowl. Tossed along with the pasta was about 2 TBSP of olive oil, the cooked pancetta, the garlic and some red pepper flakes.

Laying out the food on a plate was fun...first the scallops in all their grandness. The smell was sooooooooooooooooooo lovely. Then, we plated up some fetuccine (making sure to get plenty of pancetta and garlic). Then we grabbed some of the cooked spinach and threw that on there. As a topper, some fresh grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano. Paired with a luscious glass of white wine. I would say this was a fantastic meal for a Monday!

Sigh. We ate our lovely dinner and watched 3:10 to Yumma..I mean, Yuma ;)

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