Pancetta is not just a fancy name for bacon, but the name of a certain type of bacon. It comes from the pork belly and, apart from being kept in brine (which is common to us), it’s also flavored with black pepper, several times. Additionally, it’s always just as my grandfather and my father made when they had pigs, meaning it has one layer of fat, one layer of meat, and so on. We can call it bacon, but if you don’t mind, I prefer naming it pancetta in order to avoid the confusion with the bacon that is entirely made of fat, and also due to its Italian origin (which is the case here). Therefore, apart from the pancetta and a generous piece of parmesan (of the good type, of course), the only connection between today’s dish and Italy (as if another one were needed), is represented by the Barilla pasta (number one in Italy), more precisely the spaghetti no. 5, my favorites, and if after today’s post you remember what to do when you realize you don’t have enough sauce for the pasta, I declare myself content.
For three generous servings, you need 250-300 grams of pasta which you either boil according to the indications on the pack, or as you see fit, as your heart and experience require (Barilla recommends cooking the pasta al dente, for best results, but in the end this is a matter of taste).
For my taste, the optimum quantity of sauce while the food is hot – there’s a lot going on here, meaning that although the sauce may be plenty while it’s hot, once it gets cold, the situation changes, as the pasta becomes dry – is made from a large tablespoon of crème fraiche – 55 grams – which can be sour cream with 30% fat, no less, 55 grams of fine cow cottage cheese and 100 milliliters of the pasta-boiling water.
In order the put together the entire combination, it’s necessary to fry 5-6 champignon mushrooms cut into quarters or halves, in an oiled hot skillet in which you previously browned 100 grams of pancetta cut into cubes. Leave the pancetta in the skillet while you fry the mushrooms. When everything has browned, add the cheese and the sour cream/crème fraiche to the skillet. Add the water in which the pasta boiled and season with salt and pepper.
Add some thyme leaves. I did and I enjoyed it. Add the boiled pasta and a tablespoon of chopped onions (scallions), stir well, remove the skillet from the stove and add 2-3 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan. The sauce will easily and immediately stick to the pasta.
For a fresh sensation, I added a tablespoon of cucumber cubes. It turned out to be a good idea (it’s important to cut the cucumbers into small cubes, with the side length of 5-7 mm).
Now, what do you if you want more sauce? Do you run down to the supermarket? No. Chances are you’ve already bought more than you needed for this recipe (there must be at least 3 tablespoons of sour cream left from where you got one).
In the skillet in which you mixed the pasta with the sauce, add another 30-40 grams of pancetta to brown (it also works without browning it, to be honest), add another tablespoon of sour cream, a tablespoon of cheese and 3-4 tablespoons of the pasta-boiling water, allow it to reduce on medium heat for 3-5 minutes and the sauce is done. As a general idea, if you have a sauce based on cooking cream, you can get some extra sauce by putting the cooking cream in a skillet on low heat, possibly adding an egg yolk dissolved in the lukewarm pasta-boiling water once you stopped the sauce from boiling. If you have a sauce based on tomatoes, even with meat, you can spread it by combining tomato passata, the water in which the pasta boiled and spices from the initial sauce, all cooked on low/medium heat. I’m sure that in any of the three situations you should rely on taste and you shouldn’t drift away from the taste you had initially chosen for your food.
Don’t forget about salt and pepper. Stay healthy.