Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pancetta: What Is It and How Do I Cook It?



Pancetta falls somewhere between ham and bacon.  Also known as Italian bacon, it’s made from pork belly that has been salt-cured.  It’s available in thin slices, like prosciutto, and also in tiny cubes.  I use it to flavor soups and pasta in the same way I would use bacon, although bacon is saltier and smokier—more in your face in terms of taste.  It is pronounced pan-CHET-ah.


Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti Carbonara – serves 4 
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes 
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil 
1 teaspoon chopped garlic 
2 eggs, beaten 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese + more for serving 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper  
1 pound cooked spaghetti 
The sauce can wait for the spaghetti, but in this recipe the hot, cooked spaghetti can’t wait for the sauce.  So prepare the sauce first. 
Put the pancetta in a wok or large frying pan and cook over medium-high heat until it starts to turn brown and crispy.  Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and let it drain on paper towels.  
Add the oil to the melted fat left in the pan.  Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds over medium-high heat until the garlic sizzles.  Remove from the heat and set aside. 
Beat the eggs in a bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Set aside. 
Cook the spaghetti.  Before draining it, fill a 1/2 cup measure with the spaghetti water and set aside. 
Reheat the oil/garlic mixture in the wok or frying pan.  Drain the spaghetti and add it to the hot oil.  Then immediately add the egg mixture and stir thoroughly so that the egg cooks and clings to the noodles.  If the mixture seems too dry, add some of the leftover spaghetti water.  Stir in the pancetta and serve immediately. Offer extra Parmesan cheese. 
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