Once again, I have attempted to replicate a delicious dish I tried while dining out. Seems that being able to travel upwards of an hour to restaurants that have cloth napkins and feast upon savory gourmet food is something that I can't do as often as I would like.
So, whenever possible (or when I have a Tribune Cooks story due), I try to recreate a favorite dish at home. This time, it was the corn carbonara from Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland.
Ordered as a side dish to share with my fellow diners, it was quickly fought over in a spoon-war inside the serving bowl. The recipe consisted of sweet, crisp kernels of corn, al dente elbow pasta, a delicious cream sauce, salty and savory pancetta, a crunchy crumb crust and a bunch of other good stuff.
Corn carbonara from Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland was a fought-over side-dish, so Tribune Chronicle copy editor Sarah Sepanek recreated it at home.
An Internet search yielded several recipes, but nothing official from Greenhouse Tavern. I guess that's what keeps restaurants in business; not sharing their secrets.
So I meshed together a couple different recipes, and added a few of my own touches. For instance, instead of cooking the whole dish in a skillet, I baked it in a baking dish so the crumb and cheese coating could get a nice crunch to it.
One caveat: I noticed that I didn't get much pan drippings from the pancetta, at least not enough to yield a tablespoon to add to the sauce. I added what I got, and made a mental note to add in a strip of bacon if this were to happen again next time. Bacon is always welcome.
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, sliced and cut into thin strips
1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen and thawed sweet corn kernels
1 cup heavy cream
Fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons finely sliced green onions, green part only
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked al dente
Bread crumbs to coat
For the sauce, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just crisp. Add corn, turn heat to low and cook 3 minutes, stirring often. Place pancetta and corn in a colander set over a bowl to drain, making sure to reserve the rendered fat.
Heat cream in a saucepan over low heat, whisking occasionally. Add a generous amount of black pepper, enough to see pepper flecks throughout, and garlic salt. Stir in parmasean and 1/2 cup romano, whisking until melted. Remove cream from heat and allow to cool. When sauce is cool, whisk in egg yolk and reserved pancetta drippings. Set aside.
Cook pasta to al dente. Drain, and pour into 9-by-13 baking dish, and coat with the sauce. Sprinkle top with remaining romano cheese and coat with a thin layer of bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until sauce is bubbly and crumbs are crisp.
The recipe came out great. The smoky pancetta and peppery spices made it more than just a baked macaroni and cheese. It can be customized; throw peas, different cheeses, red pepper or whatever sounds good into the mix. It makes a good comfort dish, welcome at any holiday buffet.