Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Penne with Asparagus and Bacon

At Booths on Saturday I bought some asparagus without actually thinking what I would do with it. The man had earlier suggested having some for supper but then we'd moved on to the idea of cold collation but when I saw the asparagus I couldn't resist .
Sometime late on Saturday night I woke up thirsty and went to the fridge for some water. Opened the door and at eye level was the bunch of asparagus. Horrified I realised I had no plan for it. We were going out for lunch Sunday for Indian in Tooting and I'd been thinking of having a creamy tomato pasta for supper. Had the penne, had the cream.
Filled my glass, went back to bed and thought about it.
By the time I woke up I had a plan. I had a little bacon in the freezer and I'd made a few litres of chicken stock Saturday afternoon so with all of this I could make a memorable pasta dish. Lightening the cream with reduced stock gives a silky richness to the dish without creating a cloying heaviness.

Penne with Asparagus and Bacon
1 litre chicken stock
Bunch of asparagus, woody stems snapped off
100g/4oz smoked bacon thinly sliced
1tspn finely chopped rosemary
150ml/4oz double cream
350g/10oz penne
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the stock into a pan and boil rapidly to reduce by half. Chop the asparagus into peices the same kind of size as the penne and separate the tips from the rest. Put the bacon into a small frypan over the lowest possible heat and cook till the fat rends and the bacon is crispy golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Add the cream and the chopped rosemary to the stock and cook till it reduces by a further one third. Check and adjust the seasoning. Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil then add the asparagus stems. Cook for 2 minutes then throw in the tips and simmer rapidly for another minute then drain and refresh under cold water to keep the asparagus crisp and bright.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook as instructed on packet. When it is al dente, drain and return it to the pan. Pour over the cream/stock and mix through the bacon and asparagus.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy. A little crusty bread would be nice to mop up the sauce.

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