My first encounter with pancetta pasata was at Cafe Philies in London. It was such a lovely dish that I wanted to try it on my own. From the many recipes online, it was a relatively easy dish to cook so we attempted it over the weekend.
When they said too many cooks spoil the broth, they were right. Typically Bryan does the pasta dishes while I attempt the Asian dishes. This time round, since pancetta pasta was my idea, I thought I’d cook it but Bryan had ideas on how pasta should be cooked. At first I thought it was just boiling the pasta to al dente, but he started chopping up the garlic, mushrooms and pancetta. I waited till he was done while reading out the recipe when he started disagreeing with the recipe.
Wut? That went against my principles! Recipes are there for a reason! We started arguing over the best way to cook the pancetta. So instead of frying the pancetta to a crisp first, he decided that to get the flavour of the bacon into the sauce, he would cook the pancetta and cream TOGETHER! My mouth formed an O as he poured cream into the sauce pan and then toss the pancetta in. I stared in shock as the pancetta swam around limply. I could hear them scream “save me! save me! ahh bloob bloob bloob”
The pasta had a lovely creamy scent tinged with the smell of cured meat. It was a bit too sour and I asked him how much lemon juice he squeezed in. “3 tablespoons as you said,” he said accusingly. Oh so THAT he listens to me.
Anyway, here’s the proper way of cooking pancetta pasta.
1. boil pasta till al denta. when cooked, drained the pasta, while keeping 1/4 cup of the pasta water aside.
2. fry pancetta to a crisp then set aside. keep the pancetta drippings.
3. fry the garlic + mushrooms + handful of fresh basil. most recipes call for asparagus and peas but I replaced it with mushrooms coz I like them better. crush the basil into bits to release the flavour.
4. pour 80ml of heavy whipping cream (or thickened cream) into the pot, together with the pasta water and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and stir.
5. toss the pasta into the sauce until completely covered with oozing creaminess. squeeze 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or to taste). toss the pancetta on top of the pasta and serve.
what I love about this dish is that it is lightly creamed and not heavy like a carbonara would be.