Boy, that blizzard sure walloped New York, Pennsylvania, and D.C. over the weekend. More than two feet of snow is a lot of snow for anyone. It’s not easy for a Bostonian to maintain her winter martyrdom under these conditions.
We had a lovely pot roast dinner by candlelight at my in-laws on Saturday as the storm’s wind gusts knocked out power on some parts of the Cape. Despite poor visibility during much of the storm, the accumulations were pretty modest, especially closer to home. It reminded me of how lucky we were to be trapped indoors with good food, not stuck on a highway somewhere.
Here’s a pasta dish we’ve been enjoying this winter. The whole thing can be made in the time it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook. Bacon is fried until just short of crispy and then chopped into fat pieces. The Brussels sprouts caramelize in the hot bacon fat until tender, along with some onion for extra flavor. Cream and starchy pasta water form a delectable sauce that quickly coats the pasta. A dusting of Pecorino Romano is the final touch.
Don’t worry about all that bacon and cream. You need your strength for shoveling. After all, February is almost upon us.
Cellentani with Bacon and Brussels Sprouts
Use any pasta shape you want. You can double the recipe, but then you’ll have to cook the bacon and vegetables in two batches (or use two pans). Not a fan of Brussels sprouts? Sub in broccoli. If you like your pasta dishes saucier, add more cream and extra cooking water. Serve alongside salad with a strong vinaigrette.
6-8 strips of bacon (or whatever will fit in your pan at once)
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, preferably small ones less than 1-inch across
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound cellentani or other pasta
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
While the pasta water comes to a boil, heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook the bacon in the dry pan, flipping as needed, until it renders much of its fat, shrinks, and turns golden on each side, but not too brown. Drain the bacon on paper towels, then cut into bite-sized pieces.
If your Brussels sprouts are larger than 1-inch across, cut them in half. Otherwise, keep whole. Cook the pasta in salted water as directed.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat (or use it all) and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat evenly with bacon fat. Let sit undisturbed for about 2 minutes until browned on one side. Decrease the heat to medium and stir in the onion. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 3 to 5 more minutes. (It’s okay if the onions start to brown—that’s good flavor. If it’s taking too long for the Brussels sprouts to cook, add a little water to create steam and cover for a few more minutes.) Once the vegetables are tender, stir in the cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer just until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and remove from the heat.
Before you drain the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan of Brussels sprouts along with the bacon. Add half of the pasta water and stir it around. Return the pan to medium-low heat and toss until the pasta is well coated, adding more pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce.