Monday, January 21, 2013

Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Marsala Pasta

When the weather gets really frigid, most people crave soup. And while I love soup and it appears on our menu plans at least once a week during the winter months, what I really crave when it's cold outside are pasta dishes. Baked pasta, pasta mixed with creamy sauce, pasta pasta pasta. To be completely honest, I guess this really isn't much different than any other season of the year. I am just a pasta girl.

I subscribe to e-mail newsletters from a bunch of different recipe sites, and recently I got one that was all about dishes including bacon. PSA to every recipe site ever: If you want me to make your recipes, send me an all-bacon newsletter. I adapted a recipe for bacon pasta that very week, much to my husband's delight.

Let me paint this picture for you: Bacon is crisped in a skillet, then its drippings are used to saute mushrooms, shallots, and garlic, which are deglazed with Marsala wine. Next comes a silky shower of cream and a decadent sprinkle of parmesan cheese. That whole business is tossed with penne pasta. This pasta has it all; it's smoky, salty, earthy, creamy, cheesy, and luxurious. I think you'll love it as much as my family did.

Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Marsala Pasta
adapted from

1 pound penne pasta
1 pound bacon, diced
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.

2. Meanwhile, crisp bacon in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Remove to paper towels to drain, and reserve 2 tablespoons of drippings in the skillet.

3. Add the butter to the bacon drippings and once it's melted, add the mushrooms and shallots to the pan. Saute until shallots are softened and mushrooms are browned, then add the garlic. Cook and stir for 30 seconds, then add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the Marsala to the skillet and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom to pick up any browned bits. After the Marsala has reduced, stir in the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cream is thickened, then stir in the parmesan cheese. After the cheese has melted, stir in half of the reserved bacon. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

5. Toss the sauce with the reserved pasta and sprinkle each serving with the remaining bacon and additional parmesan cheese.