When you think of really good Italian food, you don’t normally think of a white guy who grew up most of his life in Texas. But that’s exactly what you’ve got when you come into Oregano Italian Kitchen in Provo Utah. You see, Oregano is owned and run by Chef Chad Pritchard. Now, I’ve known Chad for several years now, but this was the first time we sat and discussed how he came by his Chef title and what brought him into the world of food.
You see, Chad’s father and grandfather had both had careers in aviation and food. But instead of his following in their footsteps with a dual career, Chad chose to a single path in the world of food. In his younger years, Chad worked in the family bakery long enough to know that he didn’t want to work in pastry his entire life. Soon after that he decided to attend Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, Texas. From that point on, Chef Pritchard owned several restaurants and never looked back.
Like I said, when you think of really good Italian food, you don’t normally think of a white guy who grew up in Texas. But when you’ve won ‘Best in State’ for seven years, you’ve probably proven you’ve got what it takes to make some damn good pasta. If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend you stop by. Oregano is the perfect size restaurant no matter how may people you have in your party. It’s got a great environment any time of year and it’s one of those places you can just go to relax whether you are just having a drink and some appetizers or a full-on meal where they must wheel you out. Either way, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Even though I have had several things from the menu, today it was Spaghetti Carbonara. Do you know why they call it Carbonara? I have to tell you that I have learned something new today. It appears that this used to be a common dish served to the men when they came from the coal mines in Italy. The word carbonaro is the Italian word for charcoal burner. When these miners came to the Unites States, the dish started to be called the "coal miner's spaghetti" or carbonari for the "charcoalmen". If you've ever had Carbonara you'll probably remember a heavy amount of ground black pepper in the dish. This, is the tribute to all those Italian coal miners over the years. And now you too have learned something.
Now, I love to cook but it’s just as fun for me to watch someone else to work their magic in the kitchen. And while I don’t mind doing all the prep work of cutting and dicing to put the whole meal together, there is something to be said about walking into a fully loaded and prepared kitchen line where all you have to do is grab and handful of this or a pinch of that and throw together a meal in a matter of minutes. I have a feeling that I’m really going to like these segments of going into restaurants and having great food.
It was great to see the bacon being rendered with the onions and smell that aroma of what I can only imagine heaven must be like. (There is bacon in heaven, right?) Then deglazing the pan with white wine and cream. I like the idea of adding minced garlic, but this recipe doesn’t call for it. Next is to marry it with the pasta, and throw in some peas, add in the Parmesan cheese and egg yolks to make it even more silky smooth. And to finish it off, create that little well for the extra egg yolk to sit, some salt and pepper and it’s perfect. However, that thing that sent this one over the edge was the garnish of fried prosciutto. Mmm, so crisp and salty…. I loved it! When you go there you have got to try it. You’ll enjoy it.
Now, you could probably have just about any drink you wish while there, but if you date happens to be your thirteen-year-old daughter, as was with me a little while back, definitely go with the Italian sodas. It’s like sipping your dessert while your eating your main meal.
So, to summarize this whole thing, I’m giving Oregano Italian Kitchen a big YUMMO! The following recipe will allow you to make this in your own kitchen. Enjoy!
Yield: Makes 4 main-course servings
Active time: 40 min Start to finish: 40 min
5 oz bacon
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 oz sweet peas
1/4 cup dry Pinot Grigio or Chabliss
1 lb Spaghetti
4 oz heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 oz Parmesan Cheese, finely grated (3/4 cup)
3/4 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated (1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cut bacon into small dice, then cook in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fat begins to render, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Add green peas. Add cream and wine and reduce by half. Take off the heat.
Cook Spaghetti in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about seven minutes.
Drain Spaghetti in a colander and add to onion/pea mixture, then toss with tongs over moderate heat until coated. Add cheese. Remove from heat and add egg yolks, tossing to combine. Garnish with cheese, fresh herbs and black pepper. Serve immediately.
This article was written by Paul M. Feyereisen, aspiring wanna-be cook. :)