A splendid treat from pal Rob again – tried and tested on a two ring burn aboard a narrow boat moored on the Grand Union canal. I love his description of ‘quality’ smoked bacon and the freedom to serve this with whatever pasta takes your fancy!
12 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
8 tomatoes (the size and colour of snooker balls)
A pinch of dried thyme
Another of crushed chillis (optional)
2 cloves of chopped garlic
A teaspoon of smoked paprika
Glug of olive oil
Applewood smoked cheddar
Pasta of your choice
Really good smoked bacon should have yellow fat approaching the colour of straw, the meat should be more purple than pink, it should be dry to the touch and it should make your car smell like a garden in November someone’s burning autumn leaves.
Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. When it’s boiling drop in the tomatoes for less than a minute, scoop out, then peel off the skins and roughly chop. Add your pasta to the boiling water. Lay out the bacon in a large frying pan, with just a splash of olive oil. Cook on a low heat until crispy and the fat is the colour of amber. Remove the rashers from the heat and allow them to cool down. Into the frying pan add the tomatoes, the garlic, the herbs and the paprika. Stir it through to make a rich vermilion sauce. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, snap it up into small pieces, and when the pasta is nearly ready, put it back into the sauce and stir it until heated through. Drain the pasta and plate up, cover with the sauce and a generous garnish of the smoked cheddar. Don’t eat it wearing a white shirt!
A robust red wine will be good with this, but for a real treat enjoy a smoky, peaty single malt from Islay as a digestif.