Bringing home the bacon ... Pasta in Bacon Arrabiata Sauce

This is for all of you who were bemused by my recent dosa post and status updates. I had promised you meat and meat you shall have.

I was in the middle of an existential dilemma. My recent attempt to make pasta in tomato pesto sauce was dubbed 'too dry'. Then I made a really creamy cheese pasta last night with some fairly expensive chorrizo from Sante. "Lovely sauce. Where is the meat?". Well 100 g at Rs 150 (3 USD) doesn't last long I admit.

So I picked myself up and decided to have another go at it tonight. The result was this most amazing pasta in bacon Arrabiata sauce which we just had for dinner.

Bacon's my favourite cold cut when it comes to cooking. I try to make the bacon fat the base of my bacon based dishes. I make a fantastic oil free (!) bacon hakka noodles. I substitute the oil with bacon fat. What I really love about bacon is the way its taste, flavour and aroma permeates through any dish that you put it in. Bacon has the ability to elevate the profane to the sacred by its sheer touch. I can wax eloquent about bacon till the World Wide Web runs out of Gigabytes. It's an unhealthy relation I know. I guess I have given my heart to bacon. Literally.

So here's how I made the dish. I heated two tablespoons of olive oil. Added 10 chopped garlic cloves to it. Garlic is key to Italian cooking from what I understand. Not a good idea to plan some French kissing after that though.

When the garlic was light brown, I added two packs (200 g) each of Dabur Homemade Tomato puree. Any less and you get 'sticky'. Not sauce.

I let this boil. Then added 200 g of finely chopped 'streaky' bacon ( a cut with streaks of fat and meat) to this and let it boil. Added a teaspoon of sugar and a table spoon of salt too.

Once the sauce thickened, I added 200 g of pasta which I had earlier boiled a la dente (firm). Stirred the pasta so that the sauce spread evenly. I felt it was getting dry so added a few spoons of water. This happened for about four to five minutes.

I then added a handful of fresh finely chopped basil, my favourite herb. A bit of chopped capsicum. One slit chilly - a Karmakar family secret. And two cubes of Amul cheese, chopped into bits. I took off the pan before the cheese melted. I didn't use the more expensive cheese which was at home as I feel that the flavour of cheese often gets lost in pasta. I finished the dish by adding some black crushed pepper on top.

The result was heady. The sauce lovingly enveloped the pasta. Was a bit saucy and sharp like Scarlett O'Hara. The bacon stamped its presence. And, no ifs and buts, this time. My plan had worked! The pasta won K over.

K took a few snaps of me preparing to photograph the pasta.

P S: Earlier in the evening Scarlett, who had recently made Arrabiata too, SMS'd me about Nigella Lawson's tip to add garlic before the oil was too hot to prevent burning. I texted her about my plans to make Arrabiata with a bacon base. She replied that it sounded interesting and wondered how it would turn out. I said, "it will turn out good". And I was right. I can say, with all humility, that food talks to me.

Talking of Nigella, check former V J and actor, Rahul Khanna's Tweet on her. Hilarious. And true.