This creamy mushroom & bacon orecchiette is the ultimate weekday meal! There’s crispy bacon, pan fried mushrooms, homemade pasta & a rich, creamy sauce. What’s not to love?

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creamy bacon & mushroom orecchiette

This is the perfect pasta dish to eat in the colder autumn months! It’s super rich, creamy & packed full of fried mushrooms & crispy bacon. A squeeze of lemon & some fresh tarragon adds a pop of colour & cuts through the richness nicely.

I’ve gone with a homemade orecchiette for this dish. The cup shape of this pasta does a great job of catching up all of that sauce!

What Is Orecchiette?

Translated from Italian, orecchiette means little ears.

Orecchiette is a hand shaped pasta made from durum wheat semolina flour. Originating from southern Italy, this pasta gets its’ name from its’ ear like shape.

Orecchiette Ingredients & How To Make

To make orecchiette, you only need two ingredients. Durum wheat semolina flour & lukewarm water. The dough for this pasta is super easy to make & so is the shaping, once you get the hang of it.

Step 1 – Making The Dough

To make the pasta dough, simply mix together semolina flour & lukewarm water to form a rough dough. Then tip it out onto a clean worksurface (a wooden board is best) & knead by hand until you have a nice, smooth dough. This will take a good ten minutes so don’t be tempted to rush this step.

Once the dough is made, we wrap it in cling film & leave it to rest for at least ten minutes.

Step 2 – Shaping

Now the tricky(ish) bit. When it comes to shaping the orecchiette it takes a bit of practise to get the hang of it but it does get easier the more you do. To shape this pasta, all you need is an eating/table knife.

First cut a chunk of dough off then use your hands to roll it into a long sausage, roughly 1 cm in diameter. Next, use a dough knife to cut the dough into 1 cm pieces.

Next, take a piece of dough & press the knife down on the edge furthest away from you. Now drag the knife over the piece of dough so that it stretches & curls. Gently remove the pasta from the knife then use your thumb to turn it inside out.

Place the shaped pasta onto a tray dusted with semolina flour then repeat with the remaining dough.

How To Dry Orecchiette

If you wanted to make the orecchiette in advance, it will need drying out. To do this, place the pasta onto wire racks & leave to dry completely. This will take at least a day after which the pasta should be stored in an airtight container. Flipping the pasta over halfway through helps it dry evenly.

Step 3 – Cooking

Once the pasta has been shaped, it can either be cooked fresh or it can be left dry then cooked at a later date.

To cook, bring a pan of water to the boil, season with salt then add in the pasta. For al dente pasta, the fresh stuff needs cooking for around 6 minutes & the dry ones 10-12 minutes.

Ingredients For Creamy Mushroom & Bacon Orecchiette

Bacon

Streaky bacon is best for this recipe. I’ve gone with the smoky type because of the added flavour but if you’d prefer unsmoked then feel free. Cooking the bacon first means that we can use the fat to cook the rest of the ingredients.

Mushrooms

You can go with any type of mushroom for this dish. I used chestnut mushrooms but you could use button, portobello, oyster, chanterelle or a combination of them all.

Porcini Powder

For an extra hit of mushroom flavour, we’re adding in a spoonful of porcini powder. This needs cooking into the sauce but makes all the difference to the flavour. This can be found online & in some supermarkets.

Cheese

We’re using mascarpone & parmesan for an extra creamy sauce. If you’d prefer an even cheesier sauce, add in some extra parmesan!

Herbs

Mushrooms go really well with fresh tarragon which is what we are using for this dish. Paired with some fresh parsley, this adds some extra colour & a subtle aniseed flavour that cuts through the richness of the sauce nicely.

Lemon

We’re only using a splash of lemon juice but this tones down the richness from the cheese, bacon & mushrooms.

creamy mushroom & bacon Orecchiette ingredients

How To Make Cream Mushroom & Bacon Orecchiette

Step 1 – Fry The Bacon

The first step is to fry bacon lardons until they are nice & crispy. These are then removed from the pan & set aside for later. The bacon fat is kept in the pan & used to cook the other sauce ingredients.

Step 2 – Cook Mushrooms & Garlic

Next, sliced mushrooms & garlic are cooked in the bacon fat until soft & any sticky. Mushrooms contain a fair amount of water so we need to cook this off before adding the cheese in.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, we add the crispy bacon pieces back in.

Step 3 – Add Cheese & Pasta

Next, mascarpone is added to the pan along with parmesan, lemon juice & porcini powder. Then we add in our cooked orecchiette (which has been cooking whilst we make the sauce) & a good splash of pasta water.

This is then heated to emulsify the cheese & the pasta water into a nice creamy sauce. If it’s looking a little thick, we add in some more pasta water.

To finish, we season well with salt & freshly cracked black pepper then stir in the fresh herbs.

Step 4 – Serve

To serve, we spoon the pasta & sauce into bowls then finish with more grated parmesan & a crack of black pepper. For best results the creamy mushroom & bacon orecchiette should be eaten immediately.

creamy bacon mushroom sauce

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a different pasta shape be used instead of orecchiette?

Absolutely! Almost any pasta shape will work for this recipe just keep in mind that the cooking times vary for different pastas.

Does semolina flour need to be used or can I use regular 00?

For traditional orecchiette, make sure to use semolina flour. I use the one from Caputo & I’ve linked it below.

Can I use a different herb to tarragon?

If you’d prefer not to use tarragon, I’d recommend leaving it out & adding in some more parsely.

Can this pasta be made in advance.

The orecchiette can be made in advance & dried out but the sauce should served straight away after it’s made.

Equipment Used

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Creamy Mushroom & Bacon Orecchiette

This creamy mushroom & bacon orecchiette is the ultimate weekday meal! There's crispy bacon, pan fried mushrooms, homemade pasta & a rich, creamy sauce. What's not to love?
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 3 People
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Dough Knife
  • Eating Fork
  • Large Saucepan
  • Large Frying Pan
  • Microplane/Grater
  • Slotted Spoon

Ingredients

Orecchiette

  • 250 g Durum Wheat Semolina Flour
  • 125 g Lukewarm Water

Creamy Mushroom & Bacon Sauce

  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 6 Rashers Smoked Streaky Bacon
  • 150 g Chestnut Mushrooms
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 20 g Butter
  • 2 tbsp Mascarpone
  • 75 g Parmesan Plus Extra To Serve
  • 1 tsp Porcini Powder
  • ½ Lemon, Juiced
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Parsley
  • ½ tbsp Chopped Tarragon

Instructions

Orecchiette

  • Weigh the flour into a mixing bowl then add in the water. Mix with a spatula to form a rough dough then tip out onto a clean worksurface (a wooden board is best).
  • Knead the pasta dough by hand for 10 minutes or until smooth.
  • Wrap in clingfilm & leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Next, using a dough knife, cut off a quarter of the dough, leaving the rest wrapped in cling film.
  • Using your hands, roll the piece of dough into a long sausage, roughly 1cm in diameter. Then with a dough knife, cut the pasta into 1cm pieces.
  • To shape, you'll need an eating/table knife.
    Take a piece of dough & press the knife down on the edge furthest away from you. Now drag the knife over the piece of dough so that it stretches & curls.
    Next, gently remove the pasta from the knife then use your thumb to turn it inside out.
  • Place the orecchiette onto a tray dusted with semolina flour.
  • Repeat this with the remaining dough.
    Once shaped the dough can either be cooked straight away or left to dry out at room temperature then stored in an airtight tub until ready to use.

Creamy Bacon & Mushroom Sauce

  • Cut the bacon into lardons, slice the mushrooms & thinly slice the garlic. Set each aside in separate containers.
  • Next, pour the vegetable oil into a large frying pan & set over a medium heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the bacon into the pan & cook until crispy, stirring regularly.
    Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon then place into a bowl, leaving the fat in the pan.
  • Whilst the bacon is cooking, fill a large saucepan up with water, set over a high heat & bring to the boil.
  • To the bacon pan, add in the mushrooms & garlic, season with salt & pepper then fry over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until they've started to soften & any liquid has evaporated.
    Chuck in the butter & cook for another 2-3 minutes then add the bacon back in & remove the pan from the heat.
  • Once the water is boiling, season generously with salt then add in the pasta.
    Give it a stir then cook until the pasta is al dente. This will take around 6 minutes.
  • When the pasta is almost cooked, place the pan of mushrooms back over a low heat then add in the mascarpone, parmesan, porcini powder & lemon juice.
  • Add in the cooked pasta, along with a ladle full of pasta water then increase the heat to medium.
  • Season generously with salt & freshly cracked black pepper & cook until the cheese & pasta water have emulsified into a creamy, glossy sauce. This will take a couple of minutes.
    If the sauce looks too thick, add in some more pasta water.
  • Remove the pasta from the heat & stir in the chopped herbs. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning then portion into bowls.
  • Grate a good amount of parmesan over each portion, finish with a crack of black pepper then serve.

Notes

To cook on an Aga, use the boiling plate for the medium/high heat & the simmering plate for the low heat.
The creamy mushroom & bacon sauce is best served straight away.
I’ve used smoky bacon for this recipe but feel free to use unsmoked if you would prefer.
Porcini powder is optional & can be purchased online & in some supermarkets.

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