Sometimes there is courage in numbers. I had lurked on the Mrs. Wheelbarrow site for
weeks, (I found it through Twitter) but I thought, no way will you have time to
participate in this marvelous salume adventure. Then one day Domenica Marchetti (www.Domenicacooks.com) waltzed in and
voiced the same yearning. So we have
teamed up to share the heavy lifting. She
has also written a blog about our trials in rolling and tying it, so I won’t go too much into that part.
the Pancetta Project, she did most of the heavy lifting by ordering, and doing
the original prep work at her house. I
did the trussing which I learned from a butchering course I took years
ago with an excellent but very cranky German butcher. You truss it as if you were casting stitches
onto a very meaty looking knitting needle.
After being reassured by Mrs. Wheelbarrow that we
could cut into it in a smaller amount of time than recommended in the
Charcuterie book, Domenica brought it
over and we cut it in half.
Tada! We now had pancetta to play with. I thought about doing something with a salad
being inspired by the salads with poached eggs, lardons, and mustardy
dressing. But then I was leafing through
my tired copy of Rogers Gray Italian Country Cookbook and found this lip smacking recipe for Penne all’Amatriciana. The
little head note in the recipe says “The secret to a successful amatriciana is
the initial infusion of the pancetta and onion.” Sold!
9 ounces pancetta cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 dried hot chile peppers, crumbled
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2/3 cup red wine
28 ounces peeled plum tomatoes, drained if very
Handful fresh oregano
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
9 ounces penne
1 cup Parmesan, freshly grated.
This was a pretty lucky slice, just a tad over 9
ounces. If I had my way
everything would be by weight. Then, I
cut the strings and unrolled it so I could cut into little strips.
Place the pancetta, oil and chiles in your sauté pan. And then turn on the
heat. I used a chile from Turkey hat we
sell in the store called Marash. It ‘s
mild but very flavorful and fruity.
Saute them together until the pancetta is very
crisp. Then you add the onions and the
rosemary and continue to sauté until they are light brown and crisp. Add the red wine—it should reduce almost
immediately—then the tomatoes. I used
the Italian cherry plum tomatoes that we
sell in the store from D. Coluccio & Sons in New
neat place to visit). Season with salt
and pepper and oregano torn from stems. Bring to a boil and then simmer about 45 minutes. It should be thick and not soupy. The cookbook suggested 9 ounces of penne but
I used the farfalle made from a whole
durum wheat and I used a pound of it .
This pasta is not at all like whole wheat pasta here, which I don’t like. My guests ate it all before I could take a
picture. They did take time to sprinkle
on the shaved parmesan before.