Monday, May 14, 2018

Creamy Bacon, Sweetcorn & Mozzarella Casarecci

Creamy Bacon, Sweetcorn & Mozzarella Casarecci

As the temperatures rise, I find myself drawn more and more to pasta dishes when we're eating at home, primarily because they're quick to make and don't require heating up my flat with the oven. This pasta dish is so easy to put on the table that it's perfect for weeknight dinners, or anytime really, not to mention that it's delicious. Casarecci is one of my favourite pasta shapes, but if you can't find it easily where you are, just use fusilli instead. 

Casarecci with sweetcorn, bacon & mozzarella in a creamy tomato sauce

A few tips...
Chopping bacon can be a bit of a pain, so I use scissors and that makes the whole process a lot less difficult. Also, be sure to use fresh mozzarella, the type that comes in a ball in a pouch of liquid. If you use the shredded or solid variations, you will not get the same texture. When working with this type of mozzarella, it's important to first pat it as dry as possible with a paper towel or two. After chopping it on a chopping board, transfer it to another paper towel and pat on top with yet another one. Leave it there to drain while you do other things, otherwise it will yield more moisture when you add it to the recipe than you want. Finally, if you're making this recipe for the whole family or children, you might want to reduce the chilli flakes to 1/4 teaspoon or leave it out all together so it's not too spicy.

300g casarecce or fusilli pasta
Salt for pasta water
1 teaspoon regular olive oil plus more for pasta water
6 slices streaky bacon, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
100g tinned sweetcorn (about 1/2 of a small tin), drained
5 tablespoons double cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
125g fresh mozzarella, drained and cubed
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil a pot of salted water on high heat to boil and add a drop of regular olive oil. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, testing about 2 to 3 minutes before it's supposed to be done to test the tenderness. You want it slightly al dente, so it may not require the whole cooking time.

2. Meanwhile for the sauce, start by heating the 1 teaspoon of regular olive oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry, stirring occasionally until it's bronzed and crispy, but be careful not to burn it. Remove to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon leaving the oil in the pan and set aside.

3. Reduce the heat to medium low before adding the garlic to the bacon oil along with the sweetcorn and chilli flakes. Stir and cook for about 1 minute, taking care not to burn the garlic before adding the tomato paste. Stir again to combine and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Add the double cream and stir, continuing to cook for another minute or two until it's fully combined and starting to bubble. As it starts to bubble, add the lemon juice, stir and cook for another minute or so.

4. When you strain the pasta, be sure to reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine until coated. If the sauce is too sparse, add some of the pasta cooking water, about a tablespoon at a time until it's wet enough to coat all of the pasta, but not too wet because the mozzarella will add moisture later.

5. While still on the heat, add the bacon and the chopped mozzarella, giving it a quick stir before removing from the heat. Sprinkle with a good grinding of fresh black pepper and serve hot.

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