Saturday, October 22, 2005
All You Need Is Bacon
That's the secret to a well-stocked pantry.
If I have the proper pork products on hand, I can make dinner. I could be out of everything, down to the dregs of the cabinet, but bacon saves the day every time. Take this meal. Margy was on her way home from work, and I had to head out for an all-night gig with my band, so I needed something both quick and substantial. I figured I'd conjure up some sort of pasta dish, using whatever odds and ends I had sitting around. I opened the freezer door and peered into the meat section as little wisps of frost curled around my face and nipped at my nose. I reached down past the chicken legs (take too long to cook) and hot dogs (no thanks) and yanked at a plastic bag whose contents I couldn't quite see because the bag was buried among the goodies. A little tug gave me all the inspiration I needed:
The rest fell into place quickly. Margy and I are trying to limit our tomato consumption after a recent harried week of consuming nothing but red dishes, so I already knew this would be an olive-oil-based sauce. I didn't have time to make a salad -- okay, I didn't feel like making a salad -- so I figured I'd use spinach in the sauce. Here's how it went down:
I sliced the slab bacon -- 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound -- into thin pieces and cooked it till browned and crisp in a bit of olive oil. Not too much fat was rendered, so I saved it all for the sauce when I drained the bacon on a paper towel. In the fat I sautéed 1 small diced onion, 2 small thinly sliced garlic cloves, 2 little minced chilies (you can see a whole one in the pic), and a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley, with a bit of salt. By now I had wilted around 4 ounces of spinach in the water I was boiling for the pasta, drained the spinach, and started cooking the pasta. Yes, I mixed spaghetti and fusilli -- sue me. (I had little bits of each left over from other meals and knew it would be the right amount for two portions when combined. It actually worked out okay, but I shall be more exclusive should Marcella Hazan turn up for dinner.) When the onions just started to brown I stirred in 1 tablespoon of butter. I added the spinach to heat it back up and, just at the very end, the bacon. I drained the pasta when al dente and stirred it into the sauce to coat it well.
Margy came home and I was ready for her. That's how she likes it. Bacon makes everything good. This time, it made me seem like a genius.