This isn’t quite pasta carbonara — for that, you’d have to leave out the cured meat and add a couple of raw eggs, which would quickly cook when you tossed them with the hot pasta and bacon. But it’s a good way to make a dish that uses pasta as a background for the strong flavor of bacon and other cured meat.
You could try this with all bacon, but the ham or salami adds another depth of flavor. Besides, cured sausage is usually a little more economical than bacon, and when it’s cooked in bacon fat it picks up some of the bacon’s taste. (That’s why the recipe tells you to save the bacon fat. It’s handy for cooking anything that could use some smoky taste, and it keeps a long time.)
Another thing you could do is add vegetables, like canned diced tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes. Chopped fresh spinach is another vegetable that pretty much cooks as it’s mixed with just cooked hot pasta.
One thing to be careful of — don’t use a cured meat with a high fat content. In my Pepperoni Spaghetti recipe I recommend browning the pepperoni in a dry pan; it has enough of its own fat to melt and give a little greasing to the pan. If you’re using ham, cut off any fat before cooking it. But don’t worry too much about this; if the whole panful looks too greasy, you can always just drain it on paper towels before you add it to the pasta.
- ½ pound bacon
- ½ pound lean salami or other cooked cured meat (like ham)
- 1 pound pasta
- Parmesan cheese
- Heat a large cast iron frying pan on medium high.
- Put in the bacon, in a single layer.
- Cook, draining often (save the fat!).
- Meanwhile, boil water and cook the pasta following package directions.
- Chop the salami or ham or whatever into bite size pieces.
- When bacon is crisp, take it out, leaving a little melted fat in the pan.
- Cook the chopped salami in the bacon fat over high heat till just browned (this will take only a few minutes).
- Remove from heat.
- Chop the cooked bacon (on a cutting board, with a knife and fork) into bite size pieces and re
- turn to pan.
- Put pan on low flame, stirring occasionally.
- When pasta is done and drained, toss it with chopped bacon and salami.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan to serve.