Most days I try to use what we have around the house as well as whatever meats are in the freezer. The other day I had taken out a pack of bacon with the intention of cooking breakfast but it never happened... so there was that. I opened the freezer and spotted a pack of pork loin strips.
I considered using the two together and figured a creamy pasta dish would work. Now, a creamy pasta dish is by no means rocket science or anything unusual for that matter - but I am always looking to try different ways of doing things and whilst something like this I would normally prepare and serve with all the components initially separated and only combined once on the plate. Today, I decided to go a different route and actually bake it. Not unlike a mac and cheese I suppose, but then again - not quite.
So, a little bit of pork with some more pork - no complaints from me, haha! Normally, if I knew I was going to be making a dish which required diced bacon, I would have bought that - but as I explained, I had already taken it out of the freezer a day or so ago. For whatever reason, if I only have back bacon or streaky strips I would cut them when still partially frozen because this makes the cutting a whole lot easier. I also have a specific board for cutting meat on - and that is the ONLY thing which gets cut on that board. I do not have that board here, so I simply made use of my plastic camp board. I hate plastic boards... I am a chopping block kinda gal.
I heated a frying pan with a little olive oil and threw in the sliced bacon and the pork loin strips. Added a little bit of chicken spice, some garlic and yes... a dollop of Mrs. Balls Chutney. Initially, it boils more than it fries because of all the water content / brine in the meat... so that takes a little time, but it is important to allow it to get to a state of frying. You want a nice sear on both the bacon and the pork. Also, pork is always better slow cooked. It tends to be quite tough when you rush it.
Whilst that was reducing to the point of frying, I further chopped some sun dried tomatoes, onion, baby spinach and fresh parsley. I would normally gravitate to Italian parsley which has a looser looking leaf, but there was none on the shelf at the shop, so I grabbed the more traditional curly parsley.
Once the bacon and pork loin had a nice golden and crispy finish, I took it off the heat and left it one side to cool for a moment. I threw the chopped up tomatoes, onions, spinach and parsley and threw then into a Pyrex dish. Once the meat had cooled, I added it too and gave it all a good toss.
With that done, I covered it and got onto the white sauce... or rather, cheese sauce - because there IS cheese in it lol. I am not one to buy ready made sauces unless I am feeling utterly lazy, which does not happen often. Besides... making a sauce is so darn simple, it seems senseless to fork out a ridiculous amount of money on a packet sauces (or a few of them when feeding 4+ people) when you can make it yourself from scratch for practically nothing!
So, a pot - some heat, two dessert spoons of BUTTER (not margarine if you can help it), a half a chicken stock cube. NO salt, because the fine chicken stock has enough of that. A healthy serving of fine black pepper, a dessert spoon of fine Parmesan and two HEAPED dessert spoons of general purpose flour. Throw them all into the pot, grab a whisk, and mix!
The consistency will get thick VERY quickly which is when I add the 250ml tub of cream and continue to stir with the whisk. You will soon after need to add milk - so have it ready. Add the milk in small increments until the sauce reaches a medium to thin consistency. Remove from the heat and add about a handful of grated cheese. Any cheese will do - I added a mild white cheddar which I had left over from my beetroot and cheese sandwich post :)
Once the Tagliatelle was cooked, I added that along with the sauce to the Pyrex dish along with all the other ingredients. Mixed it all up, which admittedly was NOT very easy with tagliatelle... but worth the effort with the end result achieved. However, if you are not that familiar with your kitchen... perhaps try this with a macaroni or Penne to begin with. It WILL make your life easier lol!
Once mixed, I topped it with a little bit of grated mild white cheddar, traditional yellow Gouda and a few grinds of black pepper.
I allowed that to sit for about 20 minutes, got the oven heated to 180 degrees Celsius with the tray in the middle and then baked at at. Once the temp was right and ready, I popped that into the oven for 30 minutes. The hard work done and dusted!
Nothing fancy was done for the plating - just a little bit of cubed avocado, a little dollop of black olive Tapenade and a swipe of Namaqualand Chilli Relish. A simple plate of food really - but EXTREMELY tasty!
I have this "thing" which I do when I experiment with random meals that really speaking have NO actual recipe. I do it to avoid people enduring uneccessary suffering as well as to steer away from dishonest pleasantries... that being, I ask "should I make it again or not?!" This generally gets the truth out. I got a round of YES from both my dad and Jude this evening... so there you have it :)
Until next time...
Much Love from Cape Town, South Africa xxx
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