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Chef's Corner: Pasta with Pancetta, Parsley & Onion Sauce

Such a simple dish. Fun for a party, great for a weeknight meal. The recipe is our rendition of a dish in Marcella Cucinaby Marcella Hazan. Slowly cooking a lot of onions turns them into a luscious, slightly sweet sauce. We found that adding a drizzle of high quality olive oil at the end really elevates the dish and brings out all the flavors. We used Le Mignole from Liguria. You'll find it at Howie's. Grab a glass of red and mangia!


Pasta with Onion Sauce, Pancetta and Parsley

Serves 2-4

  • 3 ounces pancetta, cut into thin strips

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 medium onions, sliced very thin, about 5 cups

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste (we like a lot)

  • 3 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

  • 3 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more for sprinkling

  • 1 pound pasta such as spaghetti, bucatini or even penne

  • High quality extra virgin olive oil for finishing

While you can make this dish in a medium skillet or pot, we find the best way to slow cook onions without browning them is in an enameled cast iron dutch oven. Le Creuset is probably the most famous. (Ours is a Kirkland.)

Heat the oil a bit in your dutch oven, pot or pan, then add the pancetta. Carefully cook it until it becomes lightly brown but not crisp. This could take 2 to 5 minutes, give or take.

Add the onions, salt, and several grindings of pepper or even more to taste (we like lots). Stir until nicely mixed, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring from time to time, until it becomes very soft, but not colored. It should still be nearly white.

About 10 minutes before the onions are done, cook the pasta in boing water then drain the pasta.

When the onions are done, taste, correct for salt, and stir in the parsley. What is nice about a dutch oven is you can then easily just add the pasta and cheese to the pot and mix thoroughly.

Divide the pasta onto warmed plates, top with a little more grated cheese if desired, then drizzle your special olive oil over the dish. If you don't have a "special" olive oil, we still suggest using whatever olive oil you have. Extra virgin would be best.

NOTE: You can cook the onions and pancetta earlier in the day. Refrigerate. Don't add the parsley until you have reheated the sauce just prior to serving.

WINE SUGGESTION: Sangiovese is a great choice.

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