Elbow Macaroni with Peas and Bacon


 Nothing burns my butt more than a person that doesn’t have a clue about their job or how to do it, then argues with you. You think I would have known better than to order Italian cold cuts at my local Pearl River Shop Rite. I guess I deserved it.

I had to shout it out at least three times above the crowd that was standing three deep holding numbers at the counter on a recent Saturday afternoon. “HELLOOOO!  SIR!  THAT’S NOT CAPOCOLLO!!  SIR!  STOP!  HELLOOOO!” He finally turned around when he realized I was yelling at him and not his coworker slicing the American cheese. “That’s not it! You’re slicing salami”, I said.  He turned to me with the hunk of meat in his hand and held it towards me and said, “it’s capi-cola”. I could see his coworker looking over from her slicer and saying that’s “capi-cola”, as he was looking for approval from her. “No”, I said, as he came closer to me insisting it was capocollo and when I saw it even closer, realized it was sopressatta. “No, look, here is the capocollo”, I said as I pointed to an unopened piece of the product right in front of me in the display case with the lettering as clear as day “Boar’s Head Capicola”. 

The man standing behind me also saw the grave mistake and shouted out “GABAGOOL! THE MAN WANTS GABAGOOL!”  Gabagool is the Americanized version of the Italian word Cappocollo made popular by Tony Soprano (“Let’s have a gabagool sandwich after we wack Big Pussy”) and other ignorant 2nd and 3rd generation Italo-Americans who have forgotten to speak Italian properly. The nice gentleman who had my back suggested I go to his favorite place in Blauvelt for Italian cold cuts. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for his help so I agreed with him. But all I wanted was a half pound of the capocollo so I could get out of there and continue with my shopping.

The deli man finally stopped slicing the sopressata and went in the back to find the product I was asking for. A moment later he came back and held up a fresh one and showed me the name on the package. It was Boar’s Head Capicola.

As I watched him slicing it I was glad I was on blood pressure medication. Instead of placing the sliced meat slightly overlapping in single layers with paper between each layer, the way it was supposed to be sliced, he was piling it up like a mound of corned beef you get at a Kosher deli for corned beef sandwiches. I bit my tongue. I knew it was going to get ugly if I jumped around the counter and gave this young man a lesson in proper “gabagool” slicing and packaging.  So I’ll spend the next week peeling apart the mound of capocollo that will stick together when sliced in this fashion. I didn’t think the rest of the crowd at the counter would have been as understanding as the gentleman who suggested the Blauvelt deli to me and came to my defence.

 He handed me the pile of meat that he packaged and priced and asked me if I wanted anything else. I hesitated…..my eyes looked around at the crowd in back of me…..nah!  I was going to get a pound of mortadella with my order but decided to skip it and just continued shopping.


This is a quick dish you can make. Nothing is quite as good as the combination of peas and bacon. If you’re looking for an easy pasta dish, this is it. It’s quick and delicious.

Elbow Macaroni with Peas and Bacon

  • 1/4 pound hickory smoked bacon
  • 1 pound frozen peas
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1   14 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni


In a large dutch oven cook bacon on medium flame till crisp. Remove bacon and place on a plate to cool. Drain all but 3 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pot.

Cook the onions and carrots in the bacon fat till soft. Add the peas, bay leaf and oregano. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.  

Add the can of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes then turn off the heat. Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces and add back to the pot with the peas.

In the meantime cook the elbow macaroni in a separate pot according to directions, about 7 minutes. Drain and add the cooked macaroni to the pot with the peas and bacon. Stir well. Add the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Drizzle about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over the pasta and stir. Taste for salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf.


About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. Now that Peter is retired, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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11 Responses to Elbow Macaroni with Peas and Bacon

  1. roy baylor says:

    i’m 59 years old and have been eating(noodle ring) for all of those years.it is one of my favorite foods and is fast to make. if you’ve never had eat give it a try. funny though no one outside of n.j. never heard of itdont knoe what your missing.

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  3. Well, the first mistake was buying Cappicollo in a supermarket. No wonder all the small butcher shops have gone out of business.

    • Peter Bocchieri says:

      Warren, guilty as charged. And I paid for my crime, all week, peeling off the slices of meat. I might just go back to making my own cappicollo again.

  4. michela says:

    thank you for a good laugh this morning! but like the one post said – you can’t buy capicola at a supermarket!!!! you need a little italian deli!

  5. Peter Bocchieri says:

    Michela, I totally agree! But for some reason, a good Italian deli in Rockland County New York is hard to find. If someone knows of one, please help me out! I’m talking about the kind of salumeria we had in Brooklyn, when you walk into the place the smells of cheese and cured meats hits you like a freight train. I’ve often thought of opening up one myself.

  6. Barbara says:

    Is it really that hard to peel apart salami? Maybe if you let it come to room temperature, it will be easier. Then you can even stick your own papers in between the slices.

    If you come to the Daily Record offices in Parsippany, I am sure you can find an Italian deli nearby. It seems like every town in the area has at least one.

  7. Richard Bocchieri says:


    You have to either move to Brooklyn or Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Better yet, try eatalo, I think that is the way it is spelled, in Manhattan. That is the only way you will get the real thing.
    Please give a class at the local colleges on how to cook real italian dishes and how to correctly pronounce and identify the names of the various dishes. It is important that the culture is not lost.

  8. Peter Bocchieri says:

    I think it’s called Eataly. I have not been there yet but it’s on my list of things to do.

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