Pasta with Pancetta, Shallots and Sage
- ACTIVE: 30 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 1 HR
- SERVINGS: 6
La matricia, Salvatore Denaro claims, is Tuscan for "paunch" or "belly"—pancetta, in short, which plays an important role in this pasta sauce. Not to be confused with pasta all'amatriciana, a tomato-and-guanciale dish from the region of Lazio, Denaro's creation, which he calls La Matricianina, is entirely original, made with plenty of shallots and sage. It's wonderful served over spaghetti, or better yet, over short, stubby rigatoni.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 fresh red chile, seeded and thinly sliced
- 6 large shallots, thinly sliced (2 cups)
- 1/4 cup sage leaves, torn
- 3 plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 pound rigatoni
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderately low heat until most of the fat has rendered and the pancetta is golden, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and simmer over moderately high heat until evaporated, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl and toss with the chile. Pour the fat off and return the skillet to the stove.
- Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add the shallots and sage leaves and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the pancetta and chile and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the rigatoni and return the pasta to the pot. Stir in the shallot-and-pancetta mixture along with the reserved pasta cooking water. Season with salt and pepper, toss well and serve.
The sage in this rich pasta will find a natural partner in the herbal, woodsy aromas often found in wines made predominantly from the Sangiovese grape. Lungarotti, one of the oldest producers in Umbria, makes an aromatic, cherry-driven blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo called Rubesco. Another terrific Umbrian Sangiovese blend is the black-curranty Palazzone Rubbio.