Editor’s Note: Chef Dylan is back and he’s cooking us through Alton Brown’s EVERYDAYCOOK book. You’re not going to want to miss this series as Chef Dylan shares his thoughts and ideas of each of Alton Brown’s recipes.
I’m going to try and keep this intro sweet and to the point, just how I like things. Plus I know this isn’t the part you’re all here for.
Given the current state of world affairs (i.e covid pandemic) I have found myself with an extreme overabundance of free time.
State mandates closed the restaurant I was cheffing at and as of writing this article we are still unable to reopen.
It’s been roughly eight or nine weeks if I’m remembering correctly.
This is the most free time I have had in my life since I started working in the restaurant industry full time at 18. To say I was overwhelmed with this newfound time would be a gross understatement.
Between the stress caused by the uncertainty of the future and not actually knowing how to handle so much time on my hands I hardly did anything the first three-ish weeks.
Sure I binged a LOT of TV and video games but I found myself not doing anything meaningful or worthwhile.
One could probably argue this was a necessary detox for me, an intervention if you will, but I didn’t want to eventually return to work and just say, “yeah, so I just watched the entire netflix catalog these last few months. How bout you?”
With that in mind, I tried to think of some of the things I’ve put off for months, or years even, with the excuse of work always stopping me.
I quickly realized one such thing would also be quite fun to catalog and write about, cook my way through a cookbook.
Page by page, no excuses, no exceptions, except maybe one or two that require specialized equipment.
Enter “EVERYDAYCOOK” – by Alton Brown
I’ve admired Alton Brown(AB from here on out) as an educator on food and cooking for years, as many in this industry do, he’s witty, sarcastic, funny, and most importantly he knows what the hell he’s talking about.
Everything I strive to be when I grow up.
Now I have watched a good amount of Good Eats over the years (and learned quite a bit I might add) but I’ve never really cooked too many of his recipes if I’m being honest.
What better way to change that?
“EVERYDAYCOOK” is a collection of recipes, organized by the time of day, that AB claims to make for friends, family, and most importantly himself every day (see what he did there?).
To add to the everydayness, all of the photography in the book was done with his smartphone (Iphone in his case) and I will be doing the same for thematics’ sake (Google Pixel in mine).
Okay fine, yes it’s because that is the only camera I have, but it’s also thematic so that’s what I’m going with.
-My Breakfast Carbonara Experience-
Feeds: 4-5 with a side though realistically 3-4 as a full meal.
This breakfast carbonara is, from what I can gather, one of AB’s favorite breakfast recipes.
It’s the most frequently brought up in live streams, interviews, online questions, and shows that I’ve seen.
If that wasn’t enough to go on it is also given the number one spot in this book. Front and “center” if you will.
The carbonara comes together quickly and easily. How can it not?
At its core, carbonara is the sum of three components, eggs, romano/parmesan cheese, and pasta.
Sure you can add other things to spice and bulk it up but that’s all it is, three things.
The beauty of this dish lies in the execution. You’re trying to turn the eggs and cheese into a creamy decadent sauce that binds everything together in its simplicity.
Get your pan too hot or let things stop moving for too long and you end up with scrambled eggs and spaghetti.
Too cold and you end up with raw eggs and something that is closer to resembling a Rocky Balboa raw protein drink.
Breakfast Carbonara Additions
AB’s additions are simple but flavorful and help round this dish to a more filling meal.
For starters, it begins the process but cooking some breakfast sausage and incorporating some of the residual fat into the dish.
After that, the additions are quite simple.
Scallions (which I would argue can make almost anything taste better) add a nice brightness, a gentle crunch, and an ever so subtle oniony tang.
Panko bread crumbs which take the crunch factor up to 11.
Finally orange zest; This was the change I was the most curious about but ended up liking the least.
Breakfast Carbonara Texture
Textural variation plays a much larger role than I think most people realize when it comes to making a dish feel complete and satisfactory.
For some reason, we as humans, crave crunchiness almost intrinsically.
Just think about how much we love potato chips and how satisfactory it is crunching our way through a bag before we shamefully realize we’ve reached the bottom only to realize there’s no one else around to blame it on.
Hence the addition of the breadcrumbs.
Why Orange Zest in the Carbonara?
As for the orange zest, I understand what AB was going for, citrus zest has an almost uncanny ability to ramp up the brightness of a dish without the added acidity that may not be wanted from citrus juice.
However, in my case, I felt the orange zest fell a little flat and was maybe a little more distracting than complementary.
With that said I’m willing to admit that the quality of ingredients is the most likely culprit in that scenario.
My mid-Michigan Meijer picked oranges pale in comparison to those found in AB’s home state of Georgia.
My suggestion would be to simply sub a bit of the orange zest with some lemon or skip the orange altogether, that is unless you have access to farm-fresh southern oranges.
Follow Along As I Cook The EVERDAYCOOK Book by Alton Brown
Grab a copy of the EVERYDAYCOOK by Alton Brown and follow along as I cook the book and have access to the complete recipes.
If pasta for breakfast isn’t your thing give this breakfast casserole a try.