Recipe: Mountain Macaroni, from Nigellissima by Nigella Lawson

1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 pound penne pasta
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces cubed pancetta or bacon
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
7 tablespoons dry white wine
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese (or use another cheese, if you like)

Preheat oven to 425F.

Place potatoes in large pot and add the amount of water you would use to cook pasta in. Add salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Add penne to pot and cook until the pasta is a little less done than you’d like to eat it. Reserve a cupful of the pasta water and drain the potatoes and pasta, before adding them back to the empty pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or another pan that can go into the oven later. Add the cubed meat and cook for about 5 minutes, until the fat begins to render. Add the thyme and shallots and cook another 5 minutes. Add the wine and let it cook off a little. Add the cream and a pinch of nutmeg, then take the pan off the heat.

Pour the pancetta-shallot mixture over the pasta and potatoes, adding some of the pasta cooking water as you mix it together. Add half of the cheese, toss, and then add all but a handful of the remaining cheese and toss again. Pour the mixture back into the pan you cooked the pancetta-shallot mixture in.

Sprinkle the last of the cheese on the top and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: I’m sure that the tastiness of this increases with the quality of the meat and cheese used, but it was delicious and satisfying when I made it even with supermarket bacon and a block of generic swiss cheese.