What’s Burning: Pancetta ‘n’ Peppers Pasta

I love BELL PEPPERS. They’re so colorful just lounging around in the fresh vegetable section of my local grocery store, or on display every Thursday in the local growers’ produce corner of the huge, open-air market that snakes its way from the train station to Piazza dei Signori.

Those bright red, yellow and orange capsicums really catch your eye and easily draw you in. I’m a sucker for sweet, crunchy bell peppers and usually walk home with a few in my grocery tote.

I’m also a tifoso (fan) of PANCETTA, Italy’s cubed version of American strip and Canadian round bacon. Sweet or smoked, those little morsels from heaven really make a mundane dish “pop.”

So, here I am, tongue hanging out, getting hungrier by the minute. I think I’ll merge these two sweet-and-salty ingredients into a palette-pleasing sauce and sauté them with some pasta, IF I have them. Shall we have a look in the ice-a-box?

YES!

You know I pride myself in being LAZY when it comes to maneuvering around the galley, and today is no exception. Granted, I have both bell peppers and pancetta, but neither ingredient is butcher shop-green grocer fresh; however, their “use before” dates will prevent me from having to go to the pronto soccorso (hospital ER) to have my stomach pumped. That’s reassuring, isn’t it?

For this culinary exercise, I’m relying on packaged roasted pepperoni (bell peppers) and pancetta cubes that I bought at my local grocery store. It’s the quick and easy way to get this mouth-watering pasta dish plated in under 15-minutes.

Now, what am I doing including “Deep Throat” in this recipe? First of all, the late Linda Lovelace has absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. On the other hand, former Washington Post investigative reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward do.

Remember the Watergate Break-In that eventually sent Richard Milhous Nixon from the White House to the outhouse before his “lease” expired?  Well, journalists Woodward and Berstein, and not Forrest Gump, uncovered all the truths behind that infamous and botched 1972 burglary at the Watergate office complex in D.C with a “little” assist from a “high ranking Government official” that the two reporters code named “Deep Throat.”

Like a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat spy story, Woodward met routinely late at night with “Deep Throat” in an underground parking structure somewhere in the District where the secretive G-Man would dole out tidbits of information to guide the reporter’s investigation and let him know if he and Bernstein were “hot or cold.”

As it turned out, “Deep Throat” was the late William Felt, Sr., the Deputy Director of the FBI at the time. He, together with Woodward and Berstein, sent “Tricky Dick” packing in 1974 and his White House inner circle off to prison.

The “Deep Throat” in our little culinary caper is the pasta we’re using, Garganelli. It’s an egg-based semolina pasta quite popular in the Emilia-Romagna region of Central Italy, especially around Bologna.

Garganelli is the diminutive of gargeneithe regional dialect word used to describe the esophagus tube at the DEEP end of a chicken’s THROAT – hey, Italian cooks don’t throw ANYTHING away.

Now, if you’ll hand me my trench coat and Foster Grants, I’ll get this “scandalous” recipe underway.

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LAZY PERSON’S PANCETTA ‘n’ PEPPERS “DEEP THROAT” PASTA

Ingredients (per 2 portions)

100 gr (3.5 oz) Cubed Pancetta

125 gr (4.4 oz) sliced Grilled Bell Peppers (red, yellow and orange, but NO green)

200 gr (7 oz) Garganelli Pasta

30 gr (2 tbsp) Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano Cheese

15 ml (1 tbsp) Virgin Olive Oil

1.25 gr (1/4 tsp) Garlic Powder (optional)

1.25 gr (1/4 tsp) Crushed Red Pepper (optional)

20 gr (1 tbspn) Sea Salt (for pasta water)

Prep and Cooking time: 20-min

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Step-1: Fill medium pot with water, cover and place on HIGH heat to begin the boiling process

Step-2: Remove from package the Grilled Bell Pepper sections and roughly slice into bite-size pieces

  

Step-3: Add Virgin Olive Oil to coat the skillet, set on MEDIUM heat. Add the optional Garlic Powder and Crushed Red Pepper and stir for 30-45 seconds

Step-4: Add the Pancetta and let it cook until medium crisp – about 4-5 minutes — stirring frequently

  

Step-5: Midway through Step-4, add the cut Grilled Bell Pepper pieces and continue stirring for the remaining 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and wait for the water to come to a boil

  

Step-6: Water is now ready. Uncover the pot, add the salt and then the Garganelli pasta. Stir vigorously for 30-seconds, let boil for 7-8 min. or until al dente

  

Step-7: At the 8-min. mark of cooking the pasta, remove 2 tablespoons of the salty water and add to the Pancetta-Bell Pepper mixture in the skillet.

Step-8: Drain the pasta and fold into the skillet with the Pancetta-Bell Pepper mix. Turn skillet on MEDIUM heat and mix continuously.

Step-9: Remove from heat, plate, top with freshly grated cheese, and serve with black-olive artisan bread.

    

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Recommend Wine PairingArquata Montefalcone Rosso DOC - Bottled by Azienda Agricola Adanti, Bevagna (PG) Italy  – A robust red that is a rich garnet color, this Montefalcone Rosso is a complex blend of five different grapes:  Sangiovese, the rare SagratinoBarberaCabernet and Merlot (5%).

Aged for one year in oak barrels and nearly an additional year in the bottle before heading to market, Montefalcone Rosso’s flavor is intense and persistent, but smooth.  On the tongue you’ll taste licorice and cumin. The bouquet hints of forest underbrush, along with dried wild cherries, plums and a dash of cinnamon. For the full review, go to our GOOD WINES section.

Arquata Montefalcone Rosso DOC goes well with pastas in meat sauces, chicken, pork, boiled meats, polenta and soft Italian cheeses like FontinaTaleggio and Marcite, a cheese unique to Norcia.

  

©The Palladian Traveler | ©Tom Palladio Images

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