Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Starving Actor: Carbonara 2.0

"Terry, you've really done it this time."

"I've been making it every day for the past year!"

"The Nobel Prize for Carbonara goes too..."

Yes, thank you. These are all familiar phrases to me now.

But it's time to confess: I've been misleading all of you.

I've given you all a fool's recipe. It's all BULLSHIT, and it fails to unlock the full potential of carbonara.

I was never the King of Carbonara.

But I am now! With help form America's Test Kitchen, I am able to bring you the TRUE definitive recipe for carbonara. It's a lot like my old one, but with some key differences when it comes to pulling off the finishing touches.

So here we go again.


Half a package of bacon (about 1/2 pound)
A medium-to-large-sized onion
Half a package of linguini (about 1/2 pound)
2 jumbo eggs (OR, 3 large eggs)
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
Some olive oil
Some salt
3 or 4 medium-sized cloves of garlic

1. Chop your bacon and onions and garlic. Bacon is easily cut into "matchsticks" while cold - or even frozen! - and just out of its package. Your onion can be cut to desired fineness. The goal is to achieve a 1:1 ratio of bacon to onion. The garlic should be minced.

2. Get your water boiling. You know, for the pasta.

3. Put your cheese into a large bowl. This'll be your serving bowl, too, so make sure it's spacious enough. HOPEFULLY, you've grated the cheese from a larger block, 'cause it'll taste better and it'll save you money. The important thing is you end up with about a cup of Parmesan cheese.

4. Add the eggs.

5. Mix it allllll together, until it reaches a consistency in which you can see the path of your utensil. If it's too liquidy, add some more cheese. If it's too dry, add another egg! I would not go above three, though.

In the old recipe, I had the eggs and cheese as the very last step. I was a monster, and though I don't deserve your trust now, I can tell you that mixing this sauce beforehand does a lot to prevent it from overcooking and becoming tough. It's also just so much easier.

6. Add your minced garlic, and give it another stir.

This is probably the most important difference in the new recipe - fresh garlic. I used to add garlic or garlic powder in with the other ingredients and cook them all together. Bullshit! This was a stupid thing to do.

By adding the garlic fresh - UNCOOKED - it keeps its strong, garlicky taste. Super fragrant. It's the best part of the recipe.

Ever since this discovery, any time a recipe asks for garlic, I always add it last, barely cooking it at all. It makes a little garlic go a long way.

This is the True Way.

All of this stuff with the eggs and cheese can be done while you're cooking during the following steps:

7. Saute your bacon over medium-high heat in a largish pan. Bacon is mostly fatty enough to cook on its own without oil or butter or anything, though a dollop of olive oil will keep it from sticking to the pan. Stir once in a while to keep it all cooking evenly.

In my previous recipe, I said it was alright if the bacon was still pink. That is still true, but I find getting it a little closer closer to red - to a medium crispness - results in a more pleasant texture. This will result in more bacon grease in the pan, which will stymie the cooking process - pour it off if there's too much.

8. Set the bacon aside on some paper towels. God rest you, bacon.

9. Hopefully your water is boiling by now, so cook that pasta. Linguini, we found, is just the right thickness for the recipe, but any of your long pastas will do in a pinch. (Add some salt and a touch of balsamic vinegar if you want some help in keeping it from clumping)

10. Leave a touch of bacon grease in the pan (like, a table spoon), and toss the onions in the same pan at medium-high heat. Add some salt, and stir until they're all coated evenly. You'll know, 'cause they'll all be shiny. If they seem at all dry, you can add a little olive oil.

Cook and stir occasionally to make sure they're all cooked evenly, until they start to get soft or when you start to see them brown lightly in some spots. You shouldn't let them get browner than this.

11. Reintroduce the bacon to the onions, give 'em a mix, and turn the heat off while the pasta finishes.

12. Strain the pasta. Let it sit aside for about a minute to cool down.

13. Mix the pasta into the cheese/garlic/eggs mixture. The heat from the pasta will cook the eggs gradually, resulting in a creamy sauce. If you combine the sauce with the pasta too quickly after straining it, you'll get a clumpy sauce that I bet you won't like.

14. Once the pasta's thoroughly mixed in, add the bacon and onion, and stir again.

You did it! You made carbonara! Great going. Serve with salad, crusty bread, some wine, and salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#Z. Two Wrongs

Brown Box held auditions for a comedy called Two Wrongs. Like most of their productions of late, it opens here in Boston, and then tours down to Maryland. Fun, and funny!

Now, I didn't (read: forgot to) bring a headshot to my audition, but I'm writing about it anyway for one main reason.

The auditions were held at the mysterious Huntington Theatre Company offices on Huntington Avenue. Well, "mysterious" mostly because they're beneath below street level, under a convenience store.

But this waiting room! Talk about comfy. That armchair in the foreground? That couch to the side? So inviting. So warm. With the right mix of people, it also makes for a very collaborative, communal space - as occurred very neatly during callbacks.

So here's some REAL advice for you actors out there. If you're ever asked to audition at the Huntington Theatre Company offices, show up early, 'cause these seats are HOT.

Oh, yeah, and

Still, 1 headshot remains.