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Bacon and Onion Pasta: A Bacon Lover’s Dream from Eric Kim

Bacon and Onion Pasta: A Bacon Lover’s Dream from Eric Kim
Eric Kim, Inventor of Bacon and Onion Pasta Sauce
Sheet pan makes the cooking easy.

In the world of pasta sauces, Bacon and Onion may not be the first thing to come to mind…

After you taste this recipe, you’ll see it’s a natural.  The fat and caramelized onions give the sauce tons of flavor. And it’s punched up with garlic, Herbes de Provence, and spiced with red pepper flakes.  And just when you think ‘well this is unusual’, you add another unheard-of ingredient—a cup of Red Vermouth to sweeten the deal and the sauce.  The pasta of choice here is angel hair. The thinnest of spaghetti sops up the sauce.  And to finish this remarkable pasta off, Parsley and Parmesan are the finishing touches.  The whole thing is a breeze to prepare. The sauce is done almost exclusively on a sheet pan. I say “almost” because the second time I made the dish, I wanted crispier bacon.  I sizzled it up in a skillet before adding it to the rest of the ingredients on the sheet pan.

Eric Kim’s Bacon and Onion Pasta sauce is “cultural appropriation” at its best.

We’ve long admired, Atlanta-born Eric Kim. ( Just see how fond of him we are in the links below this recipe.).  Growing up in a Korean family, there was plenty of adaptation in his mother’s kitchen.  He wrote a highly successful cookbook on the subject.  “Korean-American: Food That Tastes Like Home” (Clarkson Potter 2022). Do read this book for an understanding of what The New York Times reviewer called  “An homage to what it means to be Korean American with delectable recipes that explore how new culinary traditions can be forged to honor both your past and your present.”  Go to www.amazon.com and you can read Eric’s Introduction which goes a long way in understanding how he could invent a recipe for Bacon and Onion Pasta.

But is Bacon and Onion Pasta Italian?

Ruth Reichl’s Recipe for Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Let’s start with the bacon.  Arguably, Rome’s most famous Pasta sauce is Spaghetti alla Carbonara. While many contemporary recipes call for ‘guanciale’ (cured pork cheek), the original dish used bacon. The American soldiers who occupied Italy after World War II, were given bacon and eggs as part of their rations. They eagerly shared this with their Italian cooks who incorporated it into the new pasta sauce. Since there were no recorded recipes of the dish until 1950, this story is undoubtedly true. (You’ll find our recipe for the dish here: https://chewingthefat.us.com/2016/06/ruth-reichls-favorite-recipe-from-my.html )

Marcella Hazan, dear friend and doyenne of Italian Cooking

Moving onto the onions, we turn to the great authority on Italian food, Marcella Hazan. Featured in her “Essentials of Italian Cooking” is a recipe for Spaghetti with Smothered Onions. It’s hard to imagine this stickler for authenticity including a recipe that wasn’t a classic. As to Eric’s additional ingredients, a quick check found pasta sauces made with both sweet vermouth and red pepper flakes.  But Herbes de Provence is pure Kim.  Oregano, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, savory, and basil are its core ingredients. Italian Seasoning excludes tarragon and savory.  Here’s the recipe and our other Eric Kim favorites follow it.

 

 

 

Bacon and Onion Pasta Sauce

March 27, 2023
: 4 to 6
: 10 min
: 50 min
: Very Easy. Just mind you don't over cook the Angel Hair.

Who doesn't love Bacon? Eric Kim uses it with Red Onions to create a phenomenal pasta sauce spiced with Red Pepper Flakes, Garlic and Herbes de Provence and sweetened with Red Vermouth

By:

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces bacon
  • 2 medium red onions
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 cup sweet red vermouth (vermouth rouge)
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
Directions
  • Step 1 Take the bacon out of its packaging with the slices still stuck together and place on a cutting board. Cut the bacon, still stacked, crosswise into ½-inch slices to create little bacon pieces, also known as lardons.
  • Step 2 If you like your bacon crispy, put the ‘lardons’ into a non-stick skillet and cook until you reach your desired level of crispiness. Then add the bacon to a large rimmed sheet pan. Halve and thinly slice the onions. Add those to the sheet pan as well. Drizzle the olive oil over the bacon and onions, season with salt and pepper, and toss until evenly coated.
  • Step 3 Place the sheet pan in a cold oven and then heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roast until the bacon has rendered much of its fat but is still pink and the onions are slightly charred in spots but not too dark, 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Step 4 Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of your knife and thinly slice them. When the bacon and onions have had their 20 to 25 minutes, remove the sheet pan from the oven and stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, herbes de Provence, and vermouth. Place the pan back in the oven and continue cooking until the vermouth is almost evaporated, and the bacon and onions look jammy and caramelized but not burnt, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Step 5 Cook the pasta according to package instructions. (Don’t overcook it, as angel hair can go from bouncy to soggy in seconds). Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  • Step 6 Carefully transfer everything from the pan to the pot with the cooked pasta. Add the parsley and Parmesan to the pasta, and toss until evenly combined, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if the sauce needs thinning out. Taste, adding more salt and pepper as needed, and serve immediately.

We used Eric Kim’s recipe for Quick Kimchi vegetables

to create this version of a wedge salad. Click here to go to the recipe:

Three Quick Kimchi Vegetables and a Classic Wedge Salad transformed by one of them.


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