Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Love Bacon (And Thank You, Rachael Ray)


Well, duh.  It's no secret that I love bacon.  It's the first word of the name of my blog.  If they had a Bacon Anonymous, I would probably be forced to attend by my family and coworkers.  At the restaurant where I work, we have lots and lots of bacon available for me to snack on.  And I do...a lot.  A woman I used to work with there would put signs on the bacon that said, "Cindy, keep out!"  But I didn't, and I don't.  

Years ago, when I first started cooking from scratch and not from those awful boxes of premade meals, I started watching Food Network.  I saw people like Rachael Ray cook fast and easy meals from scratch.  I can do that, I thought.  And I watched and I learned and I cooked.  Sure, I cooked before that, but I had to follow a recipe verbatim and couldn't make up my own recipes.  Rachael Ray made it all look so easy. She is also the reason why I cook with and fell in love with garlic and the reason why I now will eat onions.  When I was a kid, I would sit at the table and pick out every single speck of onion in my food.

One of the first things I saw Ms. Ray cook was Pasta All'Amatriciana.  She described it as basically bacon and onion pasta.  I tried it and loved it.  I think I made some every night for a week because it was so good.  At the time, I really wasn't familiar with pancetta (which is Italian bacon that is cured but not smoked), so I used regular bacon, which was darn tasty.  But now I make it with pancetta.  My recipe is equally as speedy as what she cooked, and I have no doubt that it's just as good.  So thank you, Rachael Ray!

PASTA ALL'AMATRICIANA
1 lb pasta, any shape
Olive oil
1/2 lb pancetta, diced (or bacon)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch sugar
Red chili flakes, to taste
One 8-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese
2 T Italian parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon beef bouillon

Cook the pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil in a large skillet and heat to medium high.  Cook the pancetta until crispy and drain on a paper towel.  Cook the onion with the pinch of sugar in the same skillet (add more olive oil if necessary) until tender. Add in the garlic, crushed tomatoes, beef bouillon, and red chili flakes, to taste.  Once it starts bubbling, cover and reduce the heat to medium low.  Once the sauce seems a little thickened, it's ready, about the same time it takes to cook the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Stir the pancetta back into the sauce and toss with the pasta. Garnish with the Parmesan cheese and parsley.  

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