This past Monday evening, faced with a nearly empty fridge and too lazy to hop on the subway, we came close to throwing up our hands and trying our luck with one of the reliably mediocre restaurants that seem to thrive in Forest Hills. But there is one thing I hate more than eating food that sucks: spending lots of money to eat food that sucks.
So I considered the meager holdings of our pantry, remembered the pancetta I had thrown in the freezer some time ago and cobbled together a pasta that I think will become a staple in our weeknight rotation. Sort of like carbonara minus the egg, this simple spaghetti is meaty, full flavored, and delicious. The wine adds a touch of acidity and the shallots oniony sweetness. You won’t need any extra salt (except for in the pasta water, of course!) because the pancetta provides plenty.
PASTA WITH PANCETTA, PEPPER, AND WHITE WINE
1 pound spaghetti
3 ½-thick slices pancetta (about 1/2 pound total), cut into small chunks
2 minced shallots
½ cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Put pasta water on to boil. In a large sauté pan over fairly low heat, render pancetta in a little olive oil until it’s dark and crisp. Add shallots, sauté a couple of minutes. Add wine and a generous amount of coarsely ground black pepper, simmer for about ten minutes. Boil pasta, adding about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the pancetta sauce and simmering a few minutes longer. Drain pasta, toss with sauce and parsley. Finish with a sprinkle of cheese.