Gemelli lends itself pretty well to risotto-like cooking. The idea for this dish came from a dish of chicken breasts with a creamy bacon, leek, and mushroom sauce served over a basic butter-and-parmigiano risotto. I figured, why not cook it all together? —Chris Hagan
unsalted butter, divided
bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise
mushrooms, chopped (I used button, but cremini also work well)
garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes, or to taste
parsley, finely chopped
fresh thyme, finely chopped
dry white wine
chicken, smoked turkey, or mushroom broth, or a combination of mushroom and chicken broths
Heat broth in a saucepan over low heat and keep warm.
Heat oil and 1 tbsp butter over medium heat in a large skillet or saute pan. Then add the bacon and cook until it renders a bit. Add leeks and mushrooms and toss to coat in fat. Saute until the leeks soften and the mushrooms release their liquid. Add garlic, pepper flakes, parsley, and thyme, and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add gemelli and toss to coat, then saute for 2 minutes, stirring.
Add white wine and cook until almost all evaporated, then stir in one cup of warm broth. Stir until the broth is almost all absorbed, then continue adding broth by the ladleful, stirring constantly, adding another ladleful as each nears absorption. (I ended up using about 5 of the 6 cups). When gemelli is al dente, cut in the remaining tbsp butter, then add cream, stirring, until it thickens slightly. (The liquid in the pan will already be pretty thickened from the starch released from the pasta during the cooking process.) Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.