12 ounces ground pork
4 slices bacon or uncured smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces dried orecchiette pasta
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
4 cups kale or spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (optional)
In a medium bowl combine pork, bacon, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper until well mixed. Using a teaspoon, scoop the mixture into the palm of your hand and shape into 1-inch meatballs. Pieces of the bacon should be visible.
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs. Cook and stir until meatballs are browned on all sides and the bacon is crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to paper towel; drain. Repeat with remaining meatballs. Reserving 1 Tbsp. bacon drippings in the skillet; set aside.
Cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted water; drain. Reserving about 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.
Cook shallot in reserved bacon dripping, over medium-high heat, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with wooden spoon to release the brown bits. Return meatballs to the skillet. Add tomatoes; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add pasta and kale; toss to combine, adding pasta liquid as needed to moisten the pasta. Season with salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with Parmesan before serving.
bacon recipe source: the Test Kitchen at Better Homes and Gardens