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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, August 19, 2005

A cheap spaghetti supper

Another recipe from Nigel Slater's 'Appetite'. This one caught my eye, while I was looking for my SHF hazelnut chocolate cake, for its simplicity and generous use of bacon. I'm not cooking much pasta at the moment, but when I was pressed into whipping up a late supper after rehearsal last week, I remembered this. As I not only had lots of bacon, but a knuckle of stale rye bread hanging about, it was the perfect time to give it a go.

This is a pasta without a sauce - it's almost like a hot pasta salad, I guess. The spaghetti is dressed with hot crispy bacon and breadcrumbs you've toasted in a pan with the remaining bacon fat and butter (it's not Nigel Slater unless there's butter...). It's then dressed with olive oil and fresh parsley; the cheapness in the title coming from the idea that these are ingredients you're likely to have knocking about in your cupboards anyway.
It was an interesting combination, and its simplicity - Nigel calls it 'puritanical' - was popular, but for me it was just too dry. Even with a good slug of olive oil, I needed more lubrication. I've always preferred the feeling of wet over dry when it comes to food, so I added a spoon of the extra-light Philadelphia cream cheese I had, and enjoyed the experience much more. Also, I wasn't completely convinced about coating spaghetti in breadcrumbs; just a little bit of carbo loading there! I think it's why A. liked it so much, and I didn't. He could live on carbohydrates and I'm much more of a protein girl.
But, it's a quick recipe and you really can't beat pasta with hot crispy bacon. But, does anybody have any suggestions for what I can do with a bowl full of hand-grated rye breadcrumbs that have been toasted in bacon fat and butter? I got a bit enthusiastic and made too much. They're nice and dry and crispy, like sand, with a distinct rye flavour....
Read on for the recipe:

Spaghetti with bacon & breadcrumbs
From 'Appetite' - Nigel Slater

Per person:
White bread - 2 thickish slices, crusts removed
Spaghetti - a thick handful, about 125g or so
Butter - a thick slice
Olive oil
Bacon - 2 good-sized rashers
Parsley - a small bunch, the leaves only, roughly chopped.

Whiz the bread to rough crumbs in a food processor, or grate it by hand (preferable - because of the different sized crmbs you'll get).
Put on a pot of generously salted water for the pasta, and cook the spaghetti for about 8-9 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan with a little olive oil to stop it burning. Cut the bacon into small strips and fry it in the butter until the fat is golden. Scoop the bacon out with a slotted spoon (important!) into a large, warm serving bowl. Add a bit more butter and oil to the butter and bacon fat in the pan and add the breadcrumbs. Stir them occasionally in the sizzling butter until they have turned golden. Keep an eye on them because they can burn very quickly just when you think they will never brown.
Drain the pasta and toss it with the hot crumbs and any of their butter, the bacon and pasley, and a little olive oil to moisten and flavour.


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