A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of competing in the San Giorgio Pasta Contest in Philadelphia. San Giorgio Pasta is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the company by hosting a series of events to commemorate its longevity.
From the website:
“For a young Italian immigrant named Girolamo Guerrisi, it would only take two years of working modest jobs in America before finding his footing. In 1914, Guerrisi took over the Keystone Macaroni Company, a one-man operation in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, from an elderly macaroni maker anxious to retire and transformed it into one of the most recognizable names in pasta, San Giorgio.
By 1950, the little company that started out producing 100 pounds of pasta per day was turning out 400,000 pounds per week. By that time, Girolamo’s five sons had taken over the business.
Two successful macaroni manufacturers would merge with San Giorgio, Delmonico of Louisville, Kentucky and Ideal of Cleveland, Ohio. San Giorgio products are now distributed in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and parts of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Virginia, and Ohio, but are most popular in the metropolitan areas of New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
San Giorgio is part of the New World Pasta family of brands, a leading dry pasta manufacturer in the United States. New World Pasta brands include Ronzoni Healthy Harvest, Ronzoni Smart Taste, and Ronzoni Garden Delight.”
The event was held at Ralph’s Italian Restaurant. Ralph’s is the oldest Italian restaurant in the United States and has been in the same family for 4 generations. That’s 114 years of serving homestyle Italian meals to patrons in South Philly!
The recipe I prepared was Peppered Bacon Linguine with Mascarpone, Poached Egg, and Buttery Crumb Topping. It’s my easy spin on Spaghetti Carbonara. Since I knew I’d be nervous about poaching eggs in front of the chefs that would be judging my dish, I practiced and perfected my technique until I got it right. I had only poached eggs in the comfort of my own kitchen before this contest but I can now say that I can poach a perfect egg.
Even on a single burner set up on a card table.
And, by the way, the judges said it was the most perfect poached egg they had ever eaten. So what they say about practice makes perfect is money in the bank.
The judges deliberated. And deliberated. And deliberated.
Soon I’ll share with you a few tips that I learned about poaching a perfect egg. Until then, here’s my award winning Peppered Bacon Linguine with Mascarpone, Poached Egg, and Buttery Crumb Topping for you to try!
- 2 slices day old Italian bread
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
- 5 quarts water, plus additional for poaching pan
- 1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 6 slices thick-cut peppered bacon
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
- ¾ pound (12-ounces) San Giorgio Linguine Pasta
- 4 large chicken eggs, preferably pasteur raised
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, if desired
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place bread on a baking sheet and bake until bread is dry and lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Process bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat, add the bread crumbs and stir to coat. Cook until toasted and the butter has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- For the pasta, fill a large pot with 5 quarts of water, add 1 tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. For the poached eggs, fill a 10-inch nonstick skillet to the rim with water, add 1 teaspoon salt and the vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, turning as necessary, until golden brown and crispy, about 4 to 5 minutes. When done, remove from pan and place on paper toweling to drain; set aside and keep warm. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, shallot, and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and mascarpone and bring to boil, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Crumble 2 strips of the cooked bacon into the sauce and add ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; stir, cover, and remove from heat.
- Add pasta to boiling water and cook, stirring, 7 minutes (1 minute under recommended cooking time for al dente). Remove from heat and drain. (Note: Reserve ½ cup pasta water to thin sauce if necessary). Return pan with cream sauce to medium heat and add drained pasta. Stir to coat and cook for 1 minute for al dente.
- Meanwhile, poach the eggs. Crack the eggs into custard cups and gently tip eggs into boiling water. Turn off heat, cover, and poach 4 minutes for medium-firm eggs. Remove eggs from water with a slotted spoon; drain and set aside.
- Divide pasta among 4 warm plates and top with poached eggs. Crumble remaining bacon and divide evenly among plates; top with bread crumbs, red pepper flakes (if using), parsley, and remaining salt and pepper. Buon Appetito!
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