Here was my Fat Tuesday dinner. (It was a little heavy, my friends, so the second course was much lighter: chicken tenders, pounded and breaded, served with lemon.)
I don't know why Americans rarely incorporate bacon into a dish. Are they afraid of the fat? Do they dislike the smoked flavor? Or, maybe it's just that no one thinks of it.
I keep bacon not in the refrigerator but in the freezer. When I want to use it, I take it from the freezer and with a large, serrated knife, I cut widthwise a piece about an inch thick. Then, I defrost the piece either in the microwave or in the frying pan.
1 lb rigatoni
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, halved
1" hickory-smoked bacon, cut straight down
3/4 lb. ground turkey
1 head escarole, washed thoroughly, each leaf cut in four
1-1.5 C HOMEMADE turkey stock (or chicken or pork stock)
8 oz. ricotta, room temperature. (To bring it to room temperature take it out of the refrigerator an hour before. If you forgot to do that, you can mix in a little stock or cooking liquid and stir — not too much, or the dish will be too liquidy.)
a pinch of salt
freshly-ground black pepper
crushed red pepper (optional)
frehsly-grated pecorino (or another grating cheese)
Oil the frying pan. Add the bacon and crushed red pepper. When the bacon is golden and begins to brown, add the onion. Sauté for 1 or 2 minutes, until it is blond (NOT brown). Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the turkey and black pepper, and stir constantly. When the pink color has disappeared, with a slotted spoon, remove the solid contents of the pan. (Keep the liquid contents.) Deglaze the pan with the stock. Add the escarole and salt and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the flame. Return the turkey, etc. to the pan. Stir well. One may add the ricotta at this point, or one may serve it at the table, and individual guests add the ricotta to their own dish, family-style.