Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bacon and Tomato Pasta

Sometimes I like to put bacon on my pasta.  I think most people would find that at least slightly appealing.  The idea for the recipe just came through me; it was so organic (name that movie reference).  But seriously, the other night it was snowing after a solid month of 70-degree weather, and I felt obligated to make something comforting and to take the opportunity to enjoy the heat of my stove.  A slow-simmered tomato sauce was the answer.  It had a healthy dose of white wine in it, lots of tomatoes, and as promised, bacon.
The key to success here is making the sauce extra bacony.  This is not necessarily achieved by adding copious amounts of bacon.  Rather, this is done by both starting and ending with bacon.  You start by crisping up some chopped bacon in a saucepan.  When it is browned and beautiful, and it has relinquished plenty of fat into the pan, you remove about two-thirds of the bacon.  This will go on top of the pasta at the end.  The rest of the bacon remains in the pan along with the bacon grease, and the browned up bacon fond, and thus bacon permeates the sauce.  There is also about a cup of white wine in this sauce.  This may be a little extreme for some tastes, but I absolutely love the tangy, acidic flavor.  This sauce is also heavy on tomato.  It is present in two forms: canned, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste.  Overall, the theme here is BIG FLAVOR. 
Bacon and Tomato Pasta (2 generous portions)

4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1-14 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 pound long thin pasta (I used spaghetti rigati)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

-       Add bacon to a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat.  Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the bacon is crisp. 
-       Remove about 2/3 of the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.  Reserve for later use.
-       Pour off all but about a tablespoon (or two) of the bacon grease.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped onion.  Season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes.  Sauté for 10 minutes, until onion is soft.
-       Add garlic and tomato paste.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.
-       Add white wine, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes, until mixture has reduced by half.
-       Add chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
-       Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Reserve about a cup of cooking water before draining pasta.
-       Toss pasta, sauce, and parsley together.  Add cooking water as needed to keep sauce moist and unctuous. 
-       Serve pasta with a sprinkle of bacon and lots of cheese.

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