I do love me some bacon. Anytime I eat it, I wanna take Bacon away for a long weekend in the country.
We don't eat it much though. Occasionally, you'll find the pre-cooked stuff in our fridge, but overall, it's not a staple in our household. And really, I have no idea why.
I figure you can put bacon in, on, or wrapped around just about anything... and it's gonna be yummy. Bacon cupcakes are testament to this fact.
This recipie has 8 slices of bacon in it (much gratitude, dear Martha Stewart) and I thought... well, if 8 slices of bacon will be good... surely 12 slices of bacon would make it even better. And how right I was. Ooooooh, how right I was.
What you'll need:
8 slices bacon, coarsely chopped (you do what you want... I used 12... it's still technically the holidays... 12 days of Christmas and all... go crazy and promise to work it off in February!)
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 (3 pound) sugar pumpkin, peeled and halved, seeds removed, and flesh cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I of course, have pureed every pumpkin in the state of Missouri, so instead of using chuncks, I used the puree -- about 2 cups. Made for a very creamy texture.)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (powder worked just fine)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound rigatoni
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Put bacon into a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring until bacon is almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; let drain. Add onion to skillet with bacon grease.
Now. Let's stop a moment and discuss why and when it became uncool to cook with bacon grease? Honestly, I recall many-a-naked soup can sitting by the stove, housing what we called drippings. No one thought twice about scooping out a spatula-full to plop into their pan, for frying ease. Once, I think I even saw my Grandma eat a spoonful straight outta the can... kind of like peanut butter, only smoother. And if you'd like to use the argument, that it clogs your artieries and is "bad for your heart," I'd like everyone to know that my Grandmother turns 95 this March. She coined the phrase "I've fallen and can't get up," weighs under a hundred pounds, can't find her teeth, her glasses, or her room most days, and hasn't remembered my name since Bush Jr. was President... for the FIRST term (don't get me started down that road)... but her heart? That's PERFECT. The only thing I ever saw my grandmother eat (and this is not a joke!) was strawberry ice cream, bacon, and coffee. Seriously. So some arguments... can be put to bed.
Cook those onions in the bacon grease, stirring until soft. Add pumpkin, sage, and the allspice. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add stock and cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until pumpkin is soft and/or sauce has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Season with pepper. Meanwhile, add pasta to boiling water, and cook until al dente or whatever your preference might be (like any true American, I can't stand al dente pasta... in fact, instead of full body scans that produce long lines at the airport, they should just start asking folks how they take thier pasta... weed out the bad guys in a heartbeat). Drain pasta, and add to your pot of pumpkin sauce. Add the bacon and Parmesan, and toss to combine. If you used the puree, your mixture will be a little runny at this point... I threw mine in an oven safe dish, and baked it for another 20 minutes.
That fuzzy, out of focus blob you see in that picture... yeah. That's the dish (and so help me, if anyone out there starts to judge me for having my Christmas decorations up still...).
I apologize for the poor photo... it doesn't look terribly appetizing, and makes your eyes hurt it you stare at it long enough. My camera's flash decided to bug out on me. But looks are decieving and I can say, it really was quite good. We both give this dish a B+.