Smoked Bacon & Tomato Pasta

The last few months have been a world wind of travel. India gave me some great insights into spices and the west coast of fresh produce and farm to table. While I enjoy travel it has done 2 things, ensured that I have not written my blog in a while and it has been a while since I just pottered around my kitchen. The thing I love to do is understand what to do with things left in my fridge and see how many items I can get into my dish. Given the limited ingredients , it was my only option to do a nice rich tomato sauce and pasta, the secret weapon was the Irish bacon my friend had given me !! Why is Irish bacon so good well its little Irish Piggies that we feed with golden grass and frosted lucky charms AND its back bacon and that means the cut  includes one piece of the pork loin and one piece of the pork belly on the same cut ! The rich smokey flavor lends itself well to a nice tomato base ! I was tempted this morning to use it for an Irish breakfast and may need to bribe someone to smuggle in some more !

I feel that I should make up some lie that I got this recipe from an old Italian grandma I met along the way, like the grandma below but alas nothing that fancy. It was just me in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and as simple as this dish is, it really is delicious ! Enjoy !

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Ingredients for Smoked Bacon and Tomato Sauce

  • 10 chopped plum tomatoes or any tomatoes you have left over
  • 1 red onion, roughly diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large carrot
  • 10+ cloves of garlic roughly chopped
  • Small bunch basil
  • 1 pack of smoked bacon
  • 1 pack of gluten-free linguine
  • Some chili flakes
  • Parmasen
  • Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, oregano (pinch)_ and Olive oil

1) Grill/Broil the bacon to make sure the healthiest of cooking. When 1/2 cooked on both sides, take out and roughly chop

2) Tomato Sauce

    • Pre Heat the oven to 400
    • If the tomatoes are large boil water, deep drop the tomato and then shock them in cold water. This will help you peel the tomato and take the skin off

getting tomato pealed

    • Put all tomatoes, garlic on a baking tray with some basil and cook for around 30 minutes.

roasting

      • After the garlic and tomato are soft, blend in food processor and take them and put them through a mesh colander to avoid having the seeds or too much pulp.

puree tomato

    • Warm olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once you see the oil shimmering, add the chopped onion and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic, roughly chopped carrots, some baby tomatoes and pinch of red pepper flake then continue to sauté until onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
    • Add roughly chopped bacon and stir.

Coming together

    • Add in the tomato puree and pop on low heat and let simmer for 1.5 hours slowly

Final sauce

    • Boil some water and cook pasta

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    • Serve and add basil and parmesan to taste.

grated cheese

Final product

Spicy Italian Meatball

All over the world each country makes their claim to own the infamous meatball ! Growing up in Ireland my mother always made us dishes with ground beef, pork and even chicken and I loved the idea that you could immerse these little bundles of joy with various sauces and spices to make completely different dishes. Tonight I decided to make a Mediterranean Italian spicy spin on a recipe my mother taught me ! Through the centuries, meatballs became so commonplace in Italy that Pellegrino Artusi (1820 - 1911) was inspired to write over a meatball recipe - "Do not think for a moment that I would be so pretentious as to tell you how to make meatballs this is a dish that everyone knows how to make, including absolute donkeys Indeed it was probably the donkey who first suggested the basic shape of the meatball to humans. My sole intention is to tell you how to prepare them when you have leftover boiled meat."

I have tried to take that quote and prepare a simple dish with the richest tomato vegetable sauce ! The traditional recipe had white wine, breadcrumbs and milk. I have removed those from this because I really wanted it as healthy as possible. I added in Mushrooms, Courgette and extra garlic instead !!

Ingredients for the Meatballs

    • minced beef. Really seek out a good butcher, the more juices and oil that seep out the more fat is ground into the meat so aim to get as lean as possible
    • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 red onion, REALLY finely diced
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce

    • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
    • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 green chilli, finely diced
    • As many pitted green olives as you want, drained
    • Small bunch basil
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and Olive oil

1) While preparing put your oven around 350

2) How to prepare Marinara

      • Lightly fry the onion, garlic and chilli for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the courgette and cook for 2 additional minutes
      • Cook the mushroom in a small frying pan alone as you want to sweat out all the water/juice. Once cooked add to the other pan with the other ingredients
      • Add the tomatoes along with the basil and finally the olives. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Then pour the mixture into a baking dish

3) On to the meatballs

    • While the tomato sauce is cooking, make up the meatballs. To the mince add parmesan, garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper and mix well
    • Shape into walnut sized balls and fry in hot olive oil until golden.

    • Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and bake in the oven for 30 minutes

    • You can serve with some rice or pasta, I preferred it alone with a little sprinkle of Parmesan on top !

Enjoy !

If Joe Bastianich says to go drink wine...then lets go !!

Has America really taken over France in wine drinking? Given my European roots I just can't bring myself to think that. I am no wine connoisseur but $40 and 60+ Italian wine booths...by booth 20...you can easily call me a connoisseur. Tonight was an adventure to the "Slow Wine 2012 event" , with a year in the life of Italian wine.

I know my French wines, even my south American wines...but Italian...Non capisco.

Anyone can speak Italian after 14 sips of wine, who spits? Jesus what a waste of amazingly beautiful wine. I had drunk so much that I was resorted to picking the last booths I would try based on whether the wine dealer looked a) like Mario b) was Female and passionate about wine or c) Italian male and attractive...thats a good even spread to be diverse right?

The event was packed full of an eclectic group of people all eager to learn more about wine. I was shocked how little I knew about Italian wine and how great French and Italian mixes were.

Sorelle Bronca - www.sorellebronca.com - Colli Di Conegliano Roosa Ser Bele 2008, which took me longer to write out than actually drink the wine was an amazing full body wine with a blend of Cab franc, cab Sauvignon, Merlot and here is the mix...Marzemino. Marzemino is a late-ripening dark-skinned grape variety grown mainly in Trentino-Alto Adige but also in Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna wine regions of Italy. 94% of these grapes are found in Italy and it gave the wine a rich peppery taste.

My other top wine was from www.bertani.net and the wine was called Amerone Della Valpolicella CL 2004 The blend was Corvina and Molinara. The passionate wine seller describe how although expensive the reason is that this grape is difficult to cultivate, but is sought for its amazing flavor, he was right !! The grape is smaller but I guess the saying is true that good things come in small packages. Its partner in crime Molinara..... again a red Italian wine grape grown in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy. This is where the wine gets its acidity and balance when it blends.

There were lots of white wines but to be honest, me and white wine are not great friends and I end up with hiccups and potentially tripping over things if I drink too much. After a few glasses of wine and great conversation, the cheese area became my favorite home.

Other great links to wines that I love include: www.conternofantino.it for their Nebbiolo, www.librandi.it for their gaglioppo/cab mix and finally www.marotticampi.it for their Lacrima !

If you are interested in more of the "slow" themed events go to - http://www.slowfoodnyc.org/

I ended my day a little slower than normal thanks to the great wine and electric atmosphere !!!

Jgamble !