Pasta Bake with Bacon & Mushrooms

By Fongolicious - November 17, 2011

Pasta bake, pretty simple comfort food but it can also be the fanciest thing in the world made by top notch chefs. From buying a bottle of flavour, boiling some pasta, throwing in some canned tuna, shredded cheese and frozen veges and wacking it in the oven.... And then there is ones with A-grade pancetta and foie gras, truffles, wine, gold flakes, refuse to call it pasta bake, ... and so forth. 

This recipes comes from a TV viewing session of Simon Hopkinson, while feeling hungry, uninspired and really lazy that I was about to pick up the phone and call the local thai takeaway. Its pretty easy stuff with a few pointers along the way, this tastes like a top notch dish without the extra preservatives, salt and MSG you get from a bottle. The only fancy'ish thing are the mushrooms.

1/2 litre milk
2 or 3 handfuls of dried porcinni (or mixed mushrooms)
2 or 3 handfuls of fresh button mushrooms roughly chopped
2 or 3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 to 1/3 cup plain flour
250g fettuccine pasta - half/third the length of the pasta (around 10 cm long) this makes it easier to stir later
200g thin streaky bacon (or pancetta)
fresh parmesan cheese to grate over the top
salt & pepper to taste
+ fresh or dried herbs (basil and parsley)
+ pinch of nutmeg

On medium heat in a medium saucepan, bring to a light simmer milk and mushrooms. Ensure to watch the pot! You don't want this to over boil as it can burn the milk. Once simmering, turn off and set aside off the heat for 5 to 10 minutes. This will allow the flavours of the mushrooms to infuse with the milk.

While that's set aside, start boiling your pasta (as per packet instructions). Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 180C.

After 5 to 10 minutes, strain the milk mushroom mixture, keeping both ingredients.
In another medium saucepan, on medium to low heat, melt few knobs of butter. Then sprinkle the plain flour and start whisking until all is combined (you're making a roux). Working quickly, add the mushroomy milk and continuing stiring with whisk. Your mixture will start to turn a thick sauce. At this point a grate a pinch of nutmeg into the sauce. Just as it starts bubbling, turn off, take of heat and set aside.

The original recipe says to use pancetta, I just use bacon. De-rind and cut into 1inch pieces. Chop up some fresh herbs (if you're not using dried). Combine bacon, pasta, herbs, strained mushroom and sauce and place in VERY WELL GREASED/ BUTTERED baking tray. Top with grated parmesan cheese. 
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the cheese is browned onto. Serve with extra parmesan.


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