penne con pancetta e crema

January 13, 2014 § 64 Comments

Penne with bacon and cream.  This is what we had for dinner the other night instead of macaroni and cheese.  On a freezing late afternoon my teenage son mentioned how “cozy” it was in the house and he wanted a bowl of macaroni and cheese.  We checked the refrigerator and did not have enough of the right type of cheese.    However, what we did find was a bag of cremini mushrooms, bacon and some heavy whipping cream.  I know, it’s the New Year and we are suppose to be eating light.  How do you tell that to a 15 year old young man who eats constantly?!  He agreed with the prospect of this combination and I was happily pulling the pots out as well as the chopping block.

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Perhaps the combination and texture of this sauce would be better with another pasta shape.  I only had penne on hand so finely chopping the mushrooms helped the bits find their way into the pasta tubes.  This is another recipe inspired by the late Marcella Hazen.

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If you are craving a comforting carbonara type sauce this is it.  Eggless and wonderful.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 3/4 pound fresh mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 good quality bacon slices, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 pound good quality pasta

F o r    t o s s i n g    t h e    p a s t a

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • reserved pasta liquid (if needed)

Wash, dry and finely chop mushrooms and set aside.  Place a large skillet on medium heat and add the butter and finely chopped shallots, cook until soft.  Turn up the heat and add the mushrooms.  Stir thoroughly to coat well.  Add salt and a few grindings of pepper, turn up the heat to allow the liquid from the mushrooms to boil away, stirring frequently.  Turn the heat back down to medium, add the bacon and stir while it cook for about a minute or two.  Add the cream and cook just long enough for the cream to become reduced and slightly thickened.  Taste and correct for salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat.  Set aside.

Choose an enameled cast-iron or other flameproof serving pan that can later contain all the pasta without piling it high.  Put in the 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup cream for tossing the pasta, and turn on the heat to low.  When the butter melts, stir to amalgamate it with the cream, then turn off the heat.

Drain the pasta when done, reserving one cup of the liquid.  Transfer the pasta to the serving pan containing butter and cream.  Turn on the heat to low, toss the noodles, turning them thoroughly to coat them well.  Add half of the mushroom sauce, tossing it with the noodles.  Add the 1/2 cup parmesan, toss again, and turn off the heat.  Pour the remainder of the mushroom sauce over the pasta.  Check for dryness and add a bit of the cooking liquid if necessary.  Serve at once right out of the pan, with additional parmesan on the side.

Serves 4-6

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