Monday, February 28, 2011

Charcutepalooza: Pasta with Pancetta and Chickpeas

The final pancetta
So the Charcutepalooza challenges roll on. I currently have a massive 5-pound beef brisket hanging out in my fridge and several very large bone-in pork chops from the local farm. That is a whole lot of meat for a family who really doesn't eat that much of it on a weekly basis. I feel like this challenge has taught me to appreciate good meat more in smaller quantities. I think anyone and everyone should get on board with that.

You see for Charcutepalooza, we're supposed to post on the 15th of every month. I got my bacon done in time (see here and here), but the pancetta still had to dry for a week or more before I could enjoy that yumminess. Now I present it to you, dear readers.

The pancetta before the cure.
So out of the cure it came, and fearing rolling it (and frankly it was a fat, yet thin piece of pork belly, I wasn't getting a good roll on it) - I wrapped it in cheesecloth and hung from a nail hammered into a floor beam in my basement. I have to say, I felt pretty giddy about that fact that meat was actually hanging in my basement. So much so, when the husband came home from class, I told him, "You have to go downstairs and look at my meat". That sounds awful right? Luckily, my husband knows I'm nuts and went down to proclaim, "I can't believe there's meat hanging in our basement." He's such a good sport, that husband.

The hanging pancetta
 Seriously, I've said it before when I put together homemade bacon for my Maple Bacon Cheddar Scones and my Bacon and Parsnip Quiche, store-bought has nothing on this home-cured stuff. The pancetta coming out of the cure smelled amazing, it's taste, only surpassed that. Pancetta in the store can be lacking in flavor and expensive. This, will last you for quite a bit and will bring a depth to your dishes you can't even imagine.

I wanted something simple for my first dish using all this porky goodness. I love pancetta in any kind of pasta dish. I know it brings a depth to beans, to vegetables, but I love it wrapped around some lovely strands of pasta. I wanted to use a traditional white bean for this pasta, but alas, I was out.

It's cold with freezing rain here in New England this morning and there was no way in hell I was going out in that until I absolutely had to. So, as always, I modified and the result was pretty tasty, even if it's not exactly what I was going for. Either way, enjoy and consider joining us for Charcutepalooza. It's a jolly good time so far!

Oh and quick moment of self-promotion here, because I haven't done it in a while. You can follow Lighter and Local on twitter (if you don't it's @kimmybingham) and if you want tasty morsels to pop up in your Facebook feed, you can find me there as well. Just "like" the Lighter and Local page! You can always subscribe in an RSS reader or by email - check the side of your screen here for all the links. And please, never fear emailing me. I love to hear from all of you!

The pancetta, sliced


Pasta with Pancetta and Chickpeas
Serves: 4

1/2 cup pancetta, diced
2 small shallots (or 1 large), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chickpeas (if using canned, drained and rinsed)
1/2 pound pasta of your choosing (I used thick spaghetti)
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese for serving


Get your water going for your pasta, throw a little kosher salt in there to get it really going. Cook according to directions, drain, set aside.


Dice up your pancetta in pretty little chunks.


Now, in a large skillet (large enough to hold the pasta in the end) - place your pancetta and turn up the heat to medium to medium-high and fry it up. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.

Let the skillet cool a bit and wipe out a little bit of the pancetta grease, leaving some behind. Now, heat skillet back up to medium heat and add your shallots. Cook 3-4 minutes until they're softened. Next, add your garlic and cook until fragrant, do not burn that garlic, you'll regret it later. Now, add your two teaspoons of olive oil, chickpeas, and pancetta, and cook 2-3 minutes until they warm up. The reason we're adding the olive oil so late is because we don't want a ton of it to cook off, we want it to coat the pasta we're going to add. Salt and pepper this mixture to your taste

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Now add your pasta to the skillet, folding in the pancetta mixture until everything is coated. Pin It

5 comments:

Sandra said...

mmmm..what a great looking photo, and your dish is just so tasty looking! Yummyyyy

Anna's Table said...

Congratulations on that pancetta. I can't believe you actually made your own. That is one big piece of meat! You are so right,anything homemade is so much better and less expensive.
Love the simplicity of your pasta dish....looks delicious.

Kate @ Diethood.com said...

I love me some pancetta! Yours looks awesome...great job!
I also like to mix my pancetta into my pasta...it gives it a beautiful sweet and smoky flavor.

themusingbouche said...

This is amazing! I totally want to make my own pancetta. I smell and experiment!

Anna's Table said...

Congratulations on that pancetta. I can't believe you actually made your own. That is one big piece of meat! You are so right,anything homemade is so much better and less expensive.
Love the simplicity of your pasta dish....looks delicious.