15 February 2011

Valentine Comfort Food: Chef Eric Lee, Sweet Crab Carbonara Pasta

Simi WineryImage of Simi Winery via Snooth

From Denny: Well, here I am, still churning out the Valentines Day posts. :) Color me into The Fun Corner for the rest of the week as I sift through network videos to find the goodies for us.

What is it about pasta that we women just love? It seems the perfect comfort food any time of the year and fits well into the Valentine's Day meal. This year a lot of chefs agreed with us because everywhere I turn for romantic meals they are often a pasta.

Chef Eric Lee creates a real beauty of a meal with sweet crab and savory Parmesan cheese over bucatini pasta. Chef Lee is the executive chef at the Simi Winery in Sonoma Country, California, where his job is to create awesome food to showcase the wine. What a great gig!

"I'm not the star," Lee says. "My job is to make wine the star. But I love to be able to pair food and wine ... and make both better." Chef Lee likes to create harmony between the salt and acid, bitter and sweet flavors in food so the wine will feature as that shining star.

He pairs chardonnay with this meal as a way to play up the acidity of the wine.

Here's his Dungeness crab bucatini carbonara recipe:

Dungeness Crab Bucatini Carbonara

From: Chef Eric Lee

Serves: 2


1 clove garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons Simi Sonoma County Chardonnay
1 large egg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat parsley
4 ounces fresh cooked Dungeness crab meat or canned lump Blue crab meat
1/2 pound bucatini pasta or spaghetti


Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

In a large sauté pan, heat the garlic slices and olive oil over medium heat. When the garlic is golden brown, remove the garlic slices and add the chopped pancetta. Cook until the pancetta is lightly crisp. Add the chardonnay and turn off the heat. Set aside.

Whisk the egg, cheese, salt, pepper and parsley together in a large bowl. Add the contents of the pan containing the pancetta and wine. Add the crab meat.

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain and immediately place the hot pasta into the bowl containing the egg, cheese, pancetta, wine and crab. Toss quickly and thoroughly to assure all noodles are coated and the ingredients are well combined. Season to taste and serve immediately.
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