Calabrian Pancetta with Spaghetti
Recipe by Rob Chirico, author of Not My Mother's Kitchen
Serves roughly 6 as a first course and 4 as a main course
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 pound Calabrian pancetta thinly sliced and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion cut lengthwise in half and then sliced into thin half-moons
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
- 1-1/2 pounds tomatoes chopped, or 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- Coarse or kosher salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, with more for serving
- Fresh basil for garnish (optional)
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet that will hold all the pasta. Add the pancetta and sautÃ© until it is beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Be careful, the pancetta is very delicate and can burn easily. Remove it to a paper towel. Add the onion and garlic to the fat and sautÃ© over medium heat until transparent. Sprinkle in the pancetta.
- Add fresh tomatoes. If using canned, pour the tomato liquid from the can into your pot, and then gradually crush the tomatoes, pouring more liquid into the pot as you go. Bring to a boil, immediately turn the heat to low, and simmer until the sauce has become somewhat concentrated, about 20 minutes. Add the salt and pepper about halfway through.
- When the sauce is nearly done, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the pasta, and cook for about a minute short of the recommended time. Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet along with freshly ground pepper. Continue heating for another minute until the pasta is well-coated, about 5 minutes. Fold in the 1/4 cup of cheese. Serve immediately with more cheese on the side and basil, if desired.