Make pasta egg-stra good

This post launches a new, semi-regular feature called “Taste the Place,” which will focus on cuisine to enjoy on the road. The inspiration of new flavors are among the longest-lasting souvenirs you bring home from your travels. This feature may inspire you to take a trip. Or, if your budget doesn’t allow for much travel these days, it’s a way to bring far-flung flavors home.

Park Hyatt Mendoza

Park Hyatt Mendoza

Argentina’s cuisine has been greatly influenced by the Italian immigrants who settled in the country. Boris Davila, chef de cuisine at Grill Q at   the Park Hyatt Mendoza, likes to break an egg over very hot pasta and stir it with a fork for at least five seconds before serving. “The heat will cook the egg, and also add great texture and flavor,” he explains. Think of it as a quick take on traditional pasta carbonara.

Inspired by Davila, I made this pasta last night, using ingredients we had on hand. It’s easy, and the results are luscious.

Argentine-Style Pasta for 2

pastaStirring egg yolks into the hot pasta yields a silky, unctuous dish that makes a nice light dinner with a green salad. Adding a little of the hot cooking water to the yolks prevents them from curdling when added to the pasta. If you want to keep this dish really Argentine, use Reggianito Argentina cheese, the affordable Argentine version of Parmigiano-Reggiano, instead of pecorino Romano.

2 large eggs

6 ounces dry pasta (use any shape you have on hand)

1 ounce pancetta, diced

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) grated pecorino Romano cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Crack eggs and separate yolks from whites; reserve whites for another use. Place yolks in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. 

3. While pasta cooks, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add pancetta, and cook 5 minutes or until crisp. Add peas; cook 3 minutes or until peas are hot; keep warm.

4. When pasta is done, drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pan. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons hot cooking water to egg yolks, stirring with a whisk. Add yolk mixture to pasta, stirring to coat pasta. Gradually add cheese, a small handful at time, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in remaining cooking water as needed to achieve a silky texture (pasta should not be watery). Add a generous grinding of pepper. Serve immediately. Yield: 2 servings.