The recipe calls for fresh pasta instead of dried, but I just didn't feel like busting out the pasta maker on a weekday night. It also calls for pancetta, the delicious Italian bacon, but I didn't have it lying in the fridge so I went with some particularly fatty American bacon instead. And while plating the dish, I realized I didn't have any parsley (so I chopped some green onions for that fresh flash of green).
I know this sounds like a disaster, but the fundamental property of the original Babbo dish remains the same: parsnips cooked in pork fat taste really good. They come out slightly sweet with a luscious, creamy texture. Whatever you do, don't mess with that.
The dried pasta will work as long as you use a short shape instead of long strands of spaghetti. The American bacon will add a smoky note to the dish, which I kind of like. Parsley, however, would probably work better than the green onions.
- 1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- 8 ounces pasta (fresh pasta if you have it)
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion (or parsley)
- Salt and pepper
- Grated parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, add the chopped bacon to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the bacon is browned, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and let drain on a couple paper towels. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
Turn the heat to medium and add the butter to skillet with the bacon fat. Add the parsnips and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring often. They should be lightly browned and very tender. Turn off the heat.
Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. When done, reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and then add the pasta directly to the skillet with the parsnips. Turn heat to high and add about 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water, the bacon, and the green onions. Cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add more of the cooking water if it looks too dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste.