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Spaghetti with Creamy Pancetta Sauce

  • TOTAL TIME: 30 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 6
  • FAST

Paul Bertolli's immigrant grandfather owned an Italian grocery on the South Side of Chicago that was legendary in the 1920s for its prosciutto and salami. Bertolli, the chef and owner of Oliveto Cafe & Restaurant in Oakland, California, plans to launch his own artisanal cured-meat company, A Mano. One of the items on offer might be guanciale, cured pork from a pig's cheek and jowl, which Bertolli uses to prepare the simple pasta recipe here. This dish is also a brilliant showcase for pancetta.

Plus: Pasta Recipes and Tips

  1. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 3/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta or guanciale, cut into 1-inch pieces
  3. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  4. 3 large plum tomatoes, chopped
  5. 1 tablespoon tomato paste or sundried tomato paste
  6. 1 small fresh red chile, seeded and minced, or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  7. 1 pound spaghetti
  8. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  9. 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the pancetta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the meat begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the plum tomatoes, tomato paste and the chile and cook the sauce over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Cover and remove from the heat.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti and the Parmigiano and Romano cheeses to the sauce and toss over moderate heat, adding small amounts of the reserved pasta cooking water until the sauce is thick and creamy. Transfer the pasta to a large shallow bowl and serve at once.
Make Ahead The recipe can be prepared through Step 1 early in the day and refrigerated.

Suggested Pairing

A fruity, off-dry German Riesling or a red with medium acidity and soft tannins like a Primitivo.