1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound pepper bacon, apple wood-smoked if available
2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1 large bay leaf
1 small Honeycrisp apple, peeled and chopped, optional
1/3 cup bourbon
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound whole wheat farfalle
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grano Padano cheese
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and bacon, and brown until crisp; remove to paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Add butter to pan and melt; reduce heat to medium-low and add onions. Season with a little salt, fresh ground black pepper, ground thyme and bay; cook until light caramel in color, about 15 minutes. Add apples (if using) and cook 10 minutes more. Add bourbon to pan and let it evaporate. Add stock and remove bay; reduce heat to low.
To a pot of boiling water, add salt and cook pasta to al dente. Add a little starchy cooking water to the onions and drain pasta. Add it to the skillet and combine with bacon and onions; adjust seasoning and serve topped with cheese.