8 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick strips
4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
Pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 9-ounce box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 pound orecchiette pasta (or other short, chunky pasta shape)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Distribute the bacon evenly in a medium-size skillet or sauté pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, onion and chile flakes. Depending on the fattiness of your bacon, you may need to add a tablespoon of olive oil to make sure there's enough fat to coat all the vegetables. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until onions and garlic are dark golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon as the vinegar bubbles to dislodge the browned bits. Continue to cook over high heat until the vinegar has almost completely evaporated, then add the stock and artichoke hearts. Return to a boil, then reduce to medium and let simmer vigorously.
2. While the sauce comes together, cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions in a large pot of salted water. Drain the pasta and return it to the empty hot pot. Stir the pasta over low heat for about 1 minute to dry it off and prepare it to absorb the liquid of the bacon-artichoke mixture. Transfer the bacon-artichoke mixture to the pot with the pasta and stir over low heat for one minute. Add the cheese and continue to stir, then transfer to bowls and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
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