Pig n’ Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese)

Pig n' Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese) // the pig & quillWe’re watching Dexter these days. I hope you understand why that means my posts have been a bit sporadic lately. I’m sure it also explains why I’m hearing the words I’m typing in the voice of Michael C. Hall. Is it still your own inner monologue if it’s in the voice of someone else? In case you’re wondering, it’s still happening.

I feel like we hardly even know each other anymore, you guys. So I’m going to try to change that. Here’s a little of what I’ve been up to these days, outside of the kitchen:

As we discussed, I’m eyeballing a lot of this guy (bonus points for showing that creme filling who’s boss):

the pig & quill - Dexter jammin' on Oreos gif

And attempting to do more of this:

the pig & quill - Nike Training Club app

I booked a trip to here for February:
(That’s Minneapolis people. And yes, February. Because paste tasted good in kinnygarten.)

Minneapolis Skyline

And here for March:
(PDX, yo)

Portland - Mt. Hood

And I’m hoping to coordinate a little girls weekend here for April:
(Let’s drink wine and Take-a-Napa Valley)

Napa Vineyards

I bought these for a STEAL:
(Backstory: Kevin is like, “So I read this HuffPost article about how TJ Maxx has great finds on high-end designer shoes. When have you ever seen high-end designer shoes at TJ Maxx?” [scoff scoff] We walk into the store. Oh, ‘sup B by Brian Atwood pumps at 90% off in my size. The universe works in beautiful ways. And no, I don’t care that I HAVE NOWHERE TO WEAR THESE.)

B Brian Atwood Fontanne Sugar

Oh, and I got a little too excited about the industrial-strength bubble wrap we had at the office and skinned the crap out of my knuckle with my own fingernail trying to pop it. Try as you might to read between the lines on this one, it’s exactly as it sounds. It’s a glamorous life I lead. No picture. Sor’s.

So that’s me. Pray tell – what have you guys been up to?

Pig n' Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese) // the pig & quill

Pig n' Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese) // the pig & quill

I’ve also been cleaning up our menu a bit, as you know (ok, maybe that Baked French Toast was a small setback), which is why this Pig & Prairie Pasta is such a home run. We made it for a New Year’s Eve supper with friends, and I absolutely believe it was the perfect way to celebrate all the good to come in 2014.

You see, it’s got all the hallmarks of your fave hearty, meat-sauced pasta, but it’s ridiculously simple to prepare, and in reality, it’s not nearly as sinful as it sounds. For eight servings, you’re looking at a pretty responsible amount of pasta — and please feel free to choose whole wheat, brown rice or whatever is currently keeping your dingy above water. And the bolognese is little more than a couple of cans of tomato sauce, sustainable bison (heyo, there’s the prairie!) and aromatic veg all simmered together. With wine, because antioxidants. And a leetle bit of bacon (pig!) because I want your tongue to like me.


Pig n' Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese) // the pig & quill

Crowned with a few dollops of light and tangy chèvre that melts dreamily into the piping hot sauce — and I beg of you, do NOT skip this step unless you have, like, a goat allergy — this is balanced eating at its absolute best.

Enjoy, my friends. And let me know how you’ve been passing the time, yeah?
Hugs and stuff.

Pig n' Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese) // the pig & quill

(Pssssst… How amazing are these bowls? I “met” Akiko Graham of Seattle-based Akiko’s Pottery through work and knew we had to make these gorgeous pieces part of our everyday dinnerware collection. I’m sure you’ll see a lot more of them here on The P&Q. Check her out!)Pig n' Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese) // the pig & quill

Pig n' Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese) // the pig & quill

Pig & Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese & Chèvre)
By Emily Stoffel
Cook time: 10 mins hands on; an hour to simmer | Serves 6-8

Note: I love this sauce heaped over rigatoni or something else equally capable of capturing all its pig n’ prairie glory (read: scoops up meaty bits well). It can be the traditional semolina stuff, or upgrade to whole wheat pasta for a little extra nutritional oomph. If you’re avoiding gluten, just choose a GF variety. And I bet no one would complain if you served this spooned generously over a bowl of creamy polenta.


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2-3 oz good, smoky bacon, diced (about 2-3 slices; we used a superbly flavored, cured Country Bacon that I picked up during my travels in the South)
  • 2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 – 1.25 lbs ground bison
  • 1 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 2 15oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb desired pasta (see note)
  • 4 – 8 oz chèvre
  • flat leaf parsley, chopped


Add bacon and olive oil to a large, cold pot or Dutch oven and turn on medium high flame. Render fat out of bacon until just starting to crisp. Add onion, garlic and chili flakes and sauté until onion is translucent, lowering heat if necessary so garlic does not burn. Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper to taste; toss veggies until well coated in fat. Add bison, Italian seasoning, fennel seed, tomato sauce and wine and stir to combine, loosely breaking up the bison. Bring to a light bubble, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove bolognese sauce from heat and allow to cool slightly while you prepare your pasta al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water just before draining pasta.

Toss pasta with a generous cup or so of bolognese sauce and a little cooking water, as needed. Divide into bowls and top generously with additional bolognese, crumbled chèvre and fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Like whatcha see here — or have a question, feedback, or recipe hack to share? Join The Pig & Quill convo by commenting below (I love, luv, lurve comments) and hang out with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. And don’t forget to subscribe to P&Q emails (see that nifty box up there in the right sidebar?) so you never miss a post. x’s & o’s!

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5 Comments on “Pig n’ Prairie Pasta (Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese)”

  1. OMG omg OMG we’ve been watching Dexter too!!!!! And I feel super late to the party. But now have both the intro and the end themes stuck in my head at all times. As well as his random monologues. YES. Also, this pasta = amazing. I love bolognese in all forms, but bison? Get out. So awesome.

    1. So I started watching Dexter about 5 years ago and made it through seasons 1 & 2. It’s taken me all of those 5 years to convince Chris that he would like it, and he finally caved. We started at the beginning (again) and we’re just getting to the part where I left off the first time. Needless to say, I’m on pins and needles. So maybe it’s a little 2009. What’s old is new again! (Case in point: I heard crop tops are back. Yikes.)

  2. oh my goodness .. what a lovely and delicious Rigatoni with Easy Bacon & Bison Bolognese!!! yum! and HELLO?! Brian Atwood pumps at 90% off? oh my gawd. . I love them! wear them around the house! 🙂

    1. Funny you should say that….I have them on right this moment with my Sunday best (yoga leggings and a hoodie, that is). Just making sure they’re broken in before I take ’em out on the town. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Super Bowl Roundup: 20 P&Q Eats for the Big Game | the pig & quill

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