Readers of The Bitten Word cooked every recipe in the September 2013 Bon Appetit magazine. Here's their take on Orechiette Carbonara with Charred Brussels Sprouts.
Katie: In the end, I enjoyed this dish, and I was pleasantly surprised that my picky-eater husband did as well. Next time, I think I would add a splash of white wine to the sauce, or some lemon zest at the end to perk things up. I would also used boxed pasta for this specific recipe, as the brussels sprouts were fine, but they didn’t knock my socks off. Since I liked the homemade orecchiette the most, I would make it again (with assistance!) and let it shine through in a simple lemon/garlic/herb sauce. If you’re looking for a quick family dinner, boxed pasta will make this a snap. Otherwise, save it for a day when you’ve got time and patience to spare.
Taryn Vidic: Amazing!! The sauce was cheesy, but not overpowering. The Brussel sprouts and pancetta added a great smoky, rich depth to the dish!
Rae: This was my first attempt at a carbonara, and I am absolutely hooked! Aside from the fun of picking up the guanciale and pecorino at DiBruno Bros. in Rittenhouse Square, I was amazed at what a flavorful and nuanced dish came from just a handful of relatively basic ingredients. I did substitute bucatelli (a hollow spaghetti) for orecchiette, and really enjoyed the outcome. I would, however, use the whole pound of brussels sprout leaves next time. My dinner partners, who helped me polish off this heaping bowl of awesomeness, could not tell me in words what they thought of the dish. They were too busy sticking their tongues into the bottom of their bowls, lapping up the last traces of porky, eggy, buttery goodness.
Maria: This was an interesting alternative to the traditional and often very heavy carbonara. We loved the subtle earthy taste of the charred brussels sprouts and thought it nicely complemented the savory taste of the pecorino romano cheese. Next time, we will probably double the amount of pancetta as we thought the dish was a little flat and in need of more pancetta with every bite. One caveat with this recipe is that separating the brussels sprouts leaves is tedious, but the final dish is worth the work!
Jane: I was slightly intimidated by the fresh pasta, so I set the mood with some Pavarotti and followed the great instructions. The guanciale seemed a little fatty, but the dish came together beautifully. The fresh pasta and the charred sprouts made this dish.
Rachel: This delicious take on carbonara was beautiful, delightful to eat and fun to prepare - the whole family helped make the pasta, from my two year old to my non-cook father-in-law. While the homemade orechiette made it extra special, dried pasta would make it an easy weeknight meal.
Cecilia: The real star of this dish is the charred brussels sprout leaves as they add a vibrant color and a flavor contrast to the saltiness of the carbonara sauce. I had to make the sauce twice since the salted pasta water cooked down with the salty pancetta to create an inedible salt-bomb. Even with the second sauce that used only hot water, the overall pasta was too salty for our tastes. I will definitely make the charred brussels sprout leaves again as a side dish.
Sunny: Well ... my husband had three helpings ... seriously. I guess I don't really need to say more, but I will. The dish was lovely - it was the perfect blend of comfort food and refined, full flavors. It was really easy to make (although separating the leaves was a little tedious) even for someone that hadn't made carbonara before. I will definitely make this again, and I would even do it without the pasta to make it into a light, but robust side dish.
Elisa: This dish was a hit with my family of foodies, so It will be made again. There was one tedious task: stripping the leaves off the Brussels sprouts. But nothing that a glass of wine and good company in the kitchen couldn't fix. The rest of the dish was super fast to throw together. In fact I waited until the table was set and the salad tossed before I went ahead with the final steps. I should mention that very center of the young Brussel sprouts were impossible to strip so we cut them up and sautéed them in butter and added them on top at the end. I liked the toothsomeness this lent to the dish. The charring was easy and added lots of flavor. Great dish, tast, fast, easy and cheap!
Get the Orechiette Carbonara with Charred Brussels Sprouts recipe at Bon Appétit