Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs--Three of My Favorite Words & My Bittman Potluck Pick!
Posted Apr 20 2010 3:01am
A busy week and no time to catalogue all of the "Things I Am Loving This Week"--my usual Tuesday feature. Instead I bring you something completely lovable--Mark Bittman's Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs.
Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs... Lets say it again, this time with feeling...PASTA with BACON and BREADCRUMBS! It is like poetry to the senses, sheer perfection in a bowl. Oh Mark Bittman, how I do love thee and your recipes that are so simple they are genius. Now I am no newcomer to the breadcrumbs as topping phenomenon--I eat it often, (like here and here with pasta, or here with asparagus and the countless times not accounted for on my blog when it tops my quick, go-to, delicious but not pretty to look at meal of canned tuna, lemon, garlic capers and breadcrumbs on pasta). Bittman takes breadcrumbs to a whole new level where not only are they are paired with bacon...but oh wait!...they are crisped and browned in a combination of said bacon's fat, olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Yep, it is poetry...bacon-scented poetry, and the fact that it is on the table in about 20 minutes makes it all the better. If it actually makes it to the table and you don't just lean over the pan on the stove, fork in hand and shovel it (delicately of course), into your mouth.
The recipe, my April Potluck choice for I Heart Cooking Clubs can be found in "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express" on page 151.
Bittman says, "This relies on good breadcrumbs, which mean homemade or panko."
Pasta with Bacon and Breadcrumbs
"Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express"
Boil salted water for pasta and cook it, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Meanwhile, cut bacon into small pieces and fry it in a bit of olive oil until just crisping; remove from the pan and add two or three minced cloves of garlic to the pan; cook over fairly low heat, turning until just fragrant, a couple of minutes. Toss in a cup or so of breadcrumbs and a pinch of red chile flakes; cook, stirring, until the breadcrumbs turn golden (they go fast, so you'll want to watch them). Toss the pasta and the breadcrumb mixture along with the bacon and a little of the reserved liquid. Top with some more olive oil and a bit of chopped parsley or basil.
Notes/Results: Pasta, bacon, breadcrumbs...do I really need to tell you how good this was and why? It is simple genius. I pretty much made it as the recipe stated--with the exception of some extra garlic and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. With so few ingredients, use good ones--a good olive oil, real bacon (I used a nitrate and antibiotic-free thick cut pepper bacon--and loved the extra kick from the pepper), and fresh, flavorful garlic and basil. We can argue the merits of homemade breadcrumbs, which are great, but I firmly believe panko is the way to go here--its feathery ethereal lightness crisps up to perfection.
The right pasta is important too. I received a bag of "radiatore" pasta from Garofalo Pasta to sample and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try it out as radiatore are small pasta shapes that are said to resemble radiators. Their ruffled edges make them work well with thicker sauces and as I learned, breadcrumbs--as they hold the toasted crumbs in between ruffles, giving you a crispy-tender bite. The Garafalo Pasta company has been making pasta for over 200 years and produces 10% of Italy's pasta production. It can be found here in the United States at grocery stores and even Costco on the west coast. The pasta worked well in this dish, holding its shape well and was tender and good. Thanks to Garafalo Pasta for allowing me to try it.
No complaints about this dish at all--it was perfect. (OK, maybe next time I might add some capers to it, but caper-love is just my issue. Trust me even without them, it is still pretty darn perfect!)
You can see what the other IHCC participants are picking for their Potluck dishes by going to the IHCC website here and following the links.
Besides going to IHCC, such pasta goodness must also be shared at Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted this week by Cynthia of Kitchen Slave. You'll want to check out the PPN round-up at her blog on Friday for all kinds of yummy pasta creations.
My "Things I Am Loving This Week" feature will be back next Tuesday!