• Alacran's Dinner Ideas pt. 2

So you aren't sure about dinner plans for this weekend? Well, you want to try something to impress your date or a guest but you're untalented when it comes to cooking (ME!). This weeks Appetizer and dinner idea comes from the country where the Z28 should have been built; I figured we would go with Italian, not the Jersey Shore kind. As an appetizer we will begin with a Spicy Cocktail Meat Balls. They're fairly simple as long as you have some hand eye coordination and a spoon. Following it up with, Spaghetti alla Carbonara which has a mix of stuff but its really just boiling and stir frying it all together in the end.

Now, im all about the night before prep work, so, Ziploc bag all the Ingredients for the Meatballs (Don't Freeze!), except the canola oil and the sauce ingredients. Now while the meat balls are cooking its time for the Spaghetti alla Carbonara even though it looks complicated, its really not, your boiling spaghetti while making the sauce. I went with Bacon since I don't know what pancetta is; I had the butcher cut me some just to try it and its really, really good but more expensive. I had to Google a Dutch Oven and its a pot with a lid, It took me 5 min. to stop laughing I kept thinking of the Urban Dictionary Definition.

Appetizer: Spicy Cocktail Meat Balls

  • For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs,/li>
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons adobe sauce (from can of chipotle peppers in adobo)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

To make the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients, except the canola oil. Shape heaping teaspoons of the mixture into 1-inch balls. In a Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, wiping pan in between, saute the meatballs, turning frequently for even browning, until cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Place on a paper towel-lined plate.

To make the sauce: Heat oil in the same Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and cook 1 minute. Stir in the remaining ingredients and reduce heat to low.

Add the browned meatballs to the Dutch oven and toss gently to coat with sauce.

Prep time: 20 Min.
Cook time: 15 Min
Ready in: 25 Min.

Entrée: Classic Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

  • 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian "al dente.") Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Pass more cheese around the table.

Preperation time: 15 Min.
Cook time: 10 Min.
Ready in: 25 Min.

Good Luck, remember to use a new utensil when handling cooked meat, you may be strong enough to handle the germs from raw meat but, your date might not, and then there won't be any "dessert" afterwards. (While, she is lying in the hospital, it happened to a friend.)