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Neapolitan-Style Mac and Cheese Is Dangerously Addictive

I don't take advantage of them too often, but lazy Saturdays are the best. Not only because I'm at home enjoying doing nothing, but also because my favorite shows on KQED, San Francisco's public television station, all happen to be on: Check, Please!, Made in Spain, Lidia's Italy, and Secrets of a Chef.

Recently the boy and I were watching an episode of Lidia's Italy in which she prepares a Neapolitan version of mac and cheese. Her recipe called for ditalini in lieu of macaroni, smoked provola instead of American or cheddar, and bacon, potatoes, and diced tomato. We sat there in captivation, practically smelling the sizzle of smoked bacon vaporizing in our living room.

We were so tantalized that we drove to the grocery store to make it immediately, with the notes I'd taken while watching the show as our guide. It tasted just as good as we'd hoped. Later, I got my hands on the book for the written recipe. Want it? Read more.

Ditalini With Potatoes and Provola

Ditalini With Potatoes and Provola

Ingredients

  1. 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 cup chopped bacon, in 1/4-inch pieces
  3. 1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  4. 4 cups russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
  6. 1 pound ditalini
  7. 1 cup seeded and diced fresh tomato
  8. 8 ounces smoked provola or mozzarella, in 1/2-inch cubes (I used smoked provolone)
  9. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

  1. Put 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and the chopped bacon in the big skillet and set over medium-high heat. Stir and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, to render bacon fat. Stir in the chopped onion, and cook until it is sizzling and wilting, about 3 minutes. Spill in the cubed potatoes, toss well in the fat, then spread them in the pan. Season with the salt, and cook, tossing and turning the potatoes frequently, for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the cubes are lightly crisped all over.
  2. Pour in 4 cups water, stir everything around, and scrape up any crust on the skillet bottom. Bring the water to a gently bubbling boil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked. The soup (or sauce, depending on your point of view) should reduce so it barely covers the potato cubes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of salted water to the boil in a pasta pot. After the potatoes have cooked for about 10 minutes, drop the ditalini into the pot and cook al dente. Drain the ditalini, and stir into the thickened potato soup/sauce. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and simmer the pasta e patate together for another 3 minutes or so, to an even denser consistency.
  4. Stir in the diced tomatoes, cook for a minute, and adjust salt to taste. Turn off the heat, scatter the cubed provola all over, and stir into the pasta e patate continuously as it melts into the threads. Finally, stir in the grated cheese. Serve immediately, in warm bowls.

Serves 6.

Average ( votes):
Comments
b1uebunn
b1uebunn
OMG, I just made this with Morningstar Veggie bacon. SO SO SO GOOD. LOVED IT.
danakscully64
danakscully64
This was pretty darn good! I used Worthington Wham in place of bacon. Browning the potatoes just caused lots of burned stuff at the bottom of my pan, causing the entire mixture to come out with a brown tint to it. Next time I won't brown potatoes at all. I omitted the tomato and used provolone cheese. I also cut the recipe in half and it seriously made 6 servings. Very good combo, will make again!
danakscully64
danakscully64
I'm making this right now and I've followed the directions... the potato mixture is SUPER dark, like vegetable broth from the browning of the potatoes. Hope it doesn't do anything to the final result.
danakscully64
danakscully64
I'm going this morning to get the ingredients for dinner :)
Caramel-Kisses
Caramel-Kisses
Oh, that looks amazing~
danakscully64
danakscully64
I can't wait to try this! I won't be using the bacon or tomato, but I may add some Worthington Wham (it's vegetarian ham, tastes very similar). It's 1:30am and I'm starving :p
courtneyd
courtneyd
The potatoes get a lot of their flavor from the bacon (they give it a nice, creamy texture I wasn't expecting). I would think if you swapped out the bacon for chicken, the I don't believe the potatoes would be as good, so I would leave them out as well. It would still be a pretty awesome mac n cheese, though.
dianadilettante
dianadilettante
Does it still taste as good if I changed the bacon for chicken, or something?
TidalWave23
TidalWave23
Absolutely making this. :drool:
telane
telane
Woowwww.... I am in love with this recipe.... It's like fancy comfort food! I can't wait to make this (though I will also probably skip the potatoes as well). Thanks!
Food
Food
Midnight Harlow, not a deal breaker. Still delicious without potatoes if you don't care for them!
Midnight-Harlow
Midnight-Harlow
Are the potatoes a deal breaker, because I am kind of iffy about putting them in mac and cheese. But overall it sounds yummy!
Pets
Pets
You guys can all fight over my bacon, no problem, but you'll have to contend with my pooch who would totally try to climb on the table or learn how to open the fridge if I stocked it ;)
courtneyd
courtneyd
This was sooooo good. I made it last night for dinner, and just had some leftovers for breakfast :-) Thanks for posting, Yum!!
Soniabonya
Soniabonya
. . . and print. Looks yummy. :)~
Modus-Vivendi
Modus-Vivendi
Mac and cheese with potatoes? Yum yum.
hyzenthlay20
hyzenthlay20
I LOVE the PBS Saturday cooking shows too! My favorites, though, are America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country. The best part is my TiVo catches them all, so I can watch that show recipes that sound good to me.
opentypeA
opentypeA
Ok, am I a dork if my first thought was choco-strawberry-vanilla mac-n-cheese? I was like, ickkkk... :-P !
fuzzles
fuzzles
I mean Pet's bacon!
fuzzles
fuzzles
Chiefdishwasher-I call dibs on Party's bacon!
chiefdishwasher
chiefdishwasher
How could it not be great with the ............rey de carne...........bacon!
fuzzles
fuzzles
BACON!!! :drool:
prencesschris
prencesschris
sounds delish
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