How to stop your heart with one pasta dish…and smile about it.

Chicken / March 13, 2015

There are many ways to fall of the healthy-eating wagon. For instance. You can sit too closely to the edge of your seat, and when a doughnut comes into view, you eagerly lean into its sugary sparkleyness, and soon drop innocently into the cholesterol-lined roadway. You can recover from that fairly quickly.

Then there’s the way I did it last night; basically taking a chainsaw and cutting through all the slats of the wagon so there is no way at all to remain perched upon it, guaranteeing a spectacular head over heels drop to the underside of my carriage. And if just falling off wasn’t embarrassing enough, I was also mutilated solidly by the wheels of the wagon as I watched the back end of it fade into the distance, listening to the broccoli and kale laugh at me without any empathy at all.

Bacon.
Cheese.
Cream.
Butter.

Yes. All of those at once.

It all started with a feature in Bon Appetit Magazine, wherein I read an article about a chef creating a browned butter vinaigrette. And I thought, “why can’t I do that with a roux as I make a cheese sauce for pasta?” And I said back to myself, “Because…once you start on the roux road, with that lovely aroma of bacon serenading your nostrils in the background, you will have a hard time remaining on your wagon of healthful eating.” And I ignored myself because that was sound advice….however, I had already taken the pan out of the cupboard. And so it was that I continued headlong into fat and cream heaven, not even allowing a penitent thought to enter my mind or my spoon. I recommend you do the same.


Orzo, Tomato, Bacon and Artichokes with a Brown Butter Parmesan Cream Sauce

Serves 2-3

The nuttiness of the browned butter roux gives this creamy pasta dish a deeper flavor profile, offsetting the saltiness of the bacon and artichokes.


Ingredients:

1/3 lb thick cut bacon or about 4 slices (I cook all of the bacon and then keep the unused strips in the fridge for future recipes!)
1 C dry orzo pasta
1½ C drained quartered artichoke hearts
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 C heavy cream
Milk as needed
3 T butter
1 T flour
1 C grated parmesan cheese
Dash dried oregano
Salt and pepper


Direction:

  • Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Now,cook bacon in a large, nonstick saute pan, until crisp but not over done. Remove and drain. Discard all but 1 T fat.
  • In a large saucepan, melt 3 T butter on medium heat and watch closely until it begins to brown. It takes a non-second to go from perfect to yuck, so watch carefully. My method is to keep the heat at medium high, and then pull the pan off the heat as you watch it, so you can see the color of the butter at stop of the foaming that begins when it heats, which obscures your view.When it’s brown, take off heat. Add the flour and whisk until incorporated,return to heat and let it bubble for a minute, remove again and continue to whisk. Do this for about 30 seconds. Now add the C of cream and whisk until thick. As it gets thick, add milk to thin. When the right consistency, which is creamy but not too custardy, remove from heat, add a bit of salt and pepper,stir in all but a few pinches of cheese (which you will use to garnish), stir until melted,and set aside.
  • Returning to the saute pan with the bacon drippings, reheat and add the tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Saute until tomatoes start to soften.Add the cheese sauce to the tomato and artichoke mixture.(I didn’t add all of it,only about 1 C or so. You will have to eye-ball on this because the amount of sauce is dependent upon how much milk you used to thin it.)While the artichokes and tomatoes were sauteing,you should be cooking the orzo, which only takes about 4-5 minutes to soften. When the pasta is cooked, drain it,and add it as well to the saucepan. Heat all, serve in bowls with a sprig of fresh parsley.


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