If you bring home the bacon

April 18, 2001|By John Ash | John Ash,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

I know we're supposed to minimize consumption of high fat and cured meats, like bacon. However, I can't imagine not having an occasional taste of good bacon. I emphasize good because much of the bacon in our markets is mass-produced and lacks the depth of flavor that you get from small artisan smokehouses. Here is a recipe that celebrates good bacon.

Bucatini With Bacon and Pecorino Cheese

Bucatini is spaghetti-shaped pasta, but a little thicker and hollow in the center. You could certainly use regular spaghetti of good quality, too. All kinds of variations are possible here, including the addition of some finely chopped ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced and sauteed onions or whatever you have on hand.

Makes 4 servings

1 pound dried bucatini or thick spaghetti

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

6 ounces good-quality, thickly sliced bacon or pancetta, cut into matchstick pieces (see note)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese (4 ounces)

freshly ground black pepper

Bring 3 quarts lightly salted water to boil in large pot. Add bucatini and cook according to package directions until just tender but firm to the bite (al dente).

Meanwhile, add olive oil to saute pan large enough to hold pasta later on. Over moderately high heat, saute bacon until browned and nearly crisp. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat. Quickly drain pasta, leaving few drops of water clinging to strands and add to saute pan. Using 2 forks, toss pasta with bacon. Add parsley, lemon zest and cheese and toss again. Cover and let rest 1 minute on very low heat to allow pasta to absorb flavors. Serve immediately in warm bowls with grindings of black pepper to taste.

Note: If using pancetta, you won't need to cook as long as bacon because it is less fatty. Cook until it is colored but not crisp before adding the pasta.

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