What you’re going to need in no particular order:
Half of a package of your favorite bacon
6oz cleaned mushrooms
A bottle of cheap white wine
1lb of pasta
2 red peppers
1 qt chicken stock (you won’t use all of it)
We know that we haven’t been posting much at all, almost not at all. It turns out a baby is a lot more work than one would think. We stand corrected.
On the way home a few weeks ago I was listening to splendid table on NPR. There was a fellow on that day talking about cooking pasta as if it were Risotto. Hmm. Interesting. Lets just get to it. Please disregard the crappy electric stove, its been 6 months since we moved here and it still just don’t seem right. (Poor grammar intended). Get yourself a drink, and we’ll start making dinner.
Where all great dishes start. Guinness and bacon.
We’re going to start where every great dish starts…bacon. That’s right I said it, bacon. “Jake, make me a key lime pie!” Sure hope you like a crust made with bacon grease, ’cause that’s what you’re getting! Don’t judge me. One thing before we get started, if you want exact amounts so you can replicate my recipe just go ahead and go someplace else. Also, when I say tablespoon I mean the one in your silverware drawer, the big one. Same goes for the teaspoon. Back to the bacon. I feel for those of you who live somewhere where you don’t have a Wegman’s grocery store, because you wouldn’t know about the wonderful products they carry. Their uncured pepper bacon for instance, mistakenly bought by Kim one day. As I took it out of the refrigerator that day I looked at her ( it wasn’t smoked) as if she brought me soy milk or some other nonsense. I cooked it up and after putting it into my mouth, I had to admit that, well she wasn’t wrong. We haven’t bought any other type of bacon in about a year. As for the amount of bacon? I don’t know…half the package I guess. Cook it not unlike you may cook it for breakfast, only nice and crispy here. Then pour half of the grease into another pan, and set the bacon aside. Cut it up so its ready later.
Peppers onions and tomatoes, who's that lurking behind?
You may as well chop up a whole onion, two red peppers and slice up about a dozen grape tomatoes.
Now we have two pans. We’re going to call them left and right. Were going to add a little more oil to lefty and righty, olive oil will work fine and lets put lefty over medium heat and righty over medium low heat. Maybe a couple tablespoons of olive oil per pan. Get a pound of pasta, your choice but I like something that will hold the sauce, so for us its orecchiette. Spirals or any other pasta with some surface area will work. I’m not sure why, but it seems as though for our purposes it is accepted procedure to coat the pasta in oil. ” If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” I always say. So after coating the pasta in the oil in righty I pour half a bottle of cheap white wine and the juice of a lemon over the whole mess. This is the Risotto part. About now you should have some chicken stock just hanging out on the stove in a saucepan warm. As the pasta absorbs the wine you should turn it over and ladle stock over it as it needs more liquid. Its going to get a creamy consistency you didn’t know pasta could get. Throw a little basil over it if the mood strikes you. It struck me.
While righty cooks nice and slow and turning over, lefty is hungry for garlic so give it what it wants. A tablespoon should do. Let the garlic saute for a minute then throw in a half onion, diced, and a red pepper, diced. After letting the onion get translucent we add our chopped bacon and about 6 oz of sliced mushrooms and a tablespoon or so (maybe as much as two) of liquid smoke. Mushrooms are like nature’s sponge; savory goodness ensues.
Take the mushrooms off the heat after they’ve cooked down nicely. At this point if you’re using reduced sodium broth you may want to put a pinch of salt into your pasta, and while you’re at it a little garlic couldn’t hurt either. After a while your pasta will be creamy and start getting soft all the way through. Toss in a half onion diced, and let it sit and soften a bit. Follow with a red pepper diced and a dozen grape tomatoes sliced up thin. If you happen to have fresh basil, cut up a handful and throw that in too. A word of caution about cheese. I’ve made this dish a few times and thought melting some cheese in was a must. The first time we used peccorino (too salty) and the second time we used soft goat cheese (a little better). I suggest no cheese. I know, I can’t believe I just heard myself say it. The truth is that melting cheese in muddies the flavors. Without the cheese this dish is very bright and the smoky salty bacon and mushrooms play well against the crunchy red peppers and wine /lemon soaked pasta.
If you must, (and I must) shred a little hard Italian cheese over it and serve it up with some premium box wine!