Pancetta-fied Pasta

Big rings of pasta in a creamy, pancetta-fied sauce.

Big rings of pasta in a creamy, pancetta-fied sauce.

 

Sometimes I think that surely I must be part Italian.

Because I could eat pasta every week. And I do cook some form of it probably close to that often.

It was on a quest to satisfy my carb craving that I started leafing through “Franny’s: Simple Seasonal Italian” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy recently. The cookbooks is by Andrew Fineberg and Francine Stephens, owners of Franny’s restaurant in Booklyn, and New York Times food writer Melissa Clark. There are recipes for more than 200 Southern Italian dishes, including pastas that require only a few ingredients, making them a breeze to prepare on a weeknight.

“Mezze Maniche with Guanciale, Chiles and Ricotta” is based on a traditional Roman dish. Big rings of pasta are tossed with creamy ricotta, a pinch of chili flakes, a shower of Pecorino Romano, and a load of guanciale, pancetta or bacon. And by load, I mean 12 whole ounces or about 2 generous cups of the porky stuff.

That’s a heck of a lot of pancetta (Italian bacon), which I used since it’s easier to find than guanciale (cured pork jowel). In fact, I found the pasta too salty. That’s why you’ll see in the recipe below, I state to use 6 to 9 ounces of pancetta instead. I think you could easily cut the original amount in half and still have plenty of cured pork flavor, while lessening the salt overload.

A perfect weeknight pasta dish.

My husband also had another suggestion: Top the pasta with a fried or poached egg. It may not be conventional. But the oozy yolk would compliment the creaminess of the pasta, render it more unctuous and balance the saltiness even more.

Because when you’re jonesing for pasta, you do what it takes to satisfy.

Easy enough to make on a weeknight.

Easy enough to make on a weeknight.

Mezze Maniche with Guanciale, Chiles and Ricotta

(Serves 4)

6 to 9 ounces guanciale, pancetta or bacon, diced (amount depending upon how salty you like it)

1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

1 pound mezze maniche (or penne or rigatoni)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon plus 4 teaspoons finely grated Percorino Romano, plus more if desired

1/2 cup fresh ricotta

Extra-virgin olive oil

Heat a very large skillet (or a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add guanciale and cook, stirring, until it is golden and much of the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat. Add chili flakes and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons water to the pan. Remove from the heat.

In a large pot of well-salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until 2 minutes shy of al dente. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Toss mezze maniche into the skillet with the guanciale, butter, and 1 tablespoon of the Pecorino Romano. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 seconds. Add ricotta and cook until the pasta is al dente and a loose, creamy sauce has formed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add some of the pasta cooking water if necessary.

Divide the pasta among four individual serving plates or bowls and finish each with 1 teaspoon or more of Pecorino and a drizzle of olive oil.

Adapted from “Franny’s: Simple Seasonal Italian” by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens and Melissa Clark

RicottaBiscuits

More Recipes with Ricotta to Try: Ricotta Biscuits with Dried Cherries, Apricots and Raspberries

RicottaPoundCake

And: Ricotta Pound Cake

lemonricottamuffin

And: Lemon Ricotta Muffins

pennericotta

And: Penne with Ricotta, Parmesan, and Peas

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Date: Wednesday, 14. May 2014 5:25
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10 comments

  1. 1

    A succulent dish! It must taste wonderful. Lovely sounding book.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. 2

    I must be Italian too! Because I completely agree with eating pasta every week! I’ve never heard of mezze maniche before! It sounds really exotically Italian! Love the sound of this dish, especially when bacon is added into it!

  3. 3

    I think I’m partially Italian too — I could eat pasta every day! Although I try to limit it to once a week at the most. ;-) This looks wonderful. I sometimes top pasta with an egg, too — not traditional but awfully tasty. ;-) Sounds like a terrific book, and the recipe is lovely — thanks.

  4. 4

    Like your hubby, I second the fried egg part, plus lots more pancetta. :)

  5. 5

    Pasta and panchetta is a classic combination. I know Italian food seems to lean on the salty side, so I can see why the recipe called for that much. But your suggestion sounds smart. :)

  6. 6

    You’ll like this: http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/lechon-sisig-carbonara-a-la-marketman

  7. 7

    CA: A sisig version of carbonara? Wow, I bet that would be fabulous, what with all the wonderful crispy parts to add even more texture.

  8. 8

    This looks fantastic! And I love the suggestion of the egg on top too! :D

  9. 9

    The book sounds lovely. I can eat pasta every week too. The pasta looks fantastic.

  10. 10

    i don’t really eat much pasta, but then again, i’ve never been served anything quite like this! yum!

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