Alaska has been having a cold snap.
I imagine many of you thinking, “So what else is new?” Even though Alaskans expect and are used to cold weather, the last couple weeks really have been colder than usual. To see what cold weather looks like, check out Marc Lester’s lovely photo-essay showing Southcentral Alaska’s chilly wonderland.
Hearty food, including pasta, is a good antidote for cold weather blues. One of my favorite ways to boost the flavor of winter pasta sauces is adding pancetta (cured Italian pork belly). Only a small amount of pancetta is needed improve the taste of savory sauces (a corollary to the principle that everything tastes better with bacon).
Salumi’s hand-crafted pancetta
Pancetta is often sold in packages of very thinly cut pre-sliced meat. Although I use pre-sliced pancetta in a pinch, I mostly buy pancetta direct from the deli counter. I ask for either a chunk of pancetta, which I hand slice and dice at home, or have the deli staff cut the pancetta into slices the thickness of regular bacon. With thicker slices, eaters enjoy bursts of pancetta flavor when devouring the sauce; thinner slices tend to melt into the other flavors.
I was recently at Seattle’s Metropolitan Market where I bought several pounds of hand-crafted pancetta from Salumi Artisan-Cured Meats. This is far and away the best pancetta I’ve ever eaten; Salumi’s hand-rolled pancetta is meaty, with superior texture and flavor. Although more expensive than pre-sliced pancetta, Salumi’s product is well worth the price, and may be ordered online.
Two delicious pasta sauces that benefit from pancetta are Pasta with Squash, Arugula, and Pancetta and Pasta with Pork in Garlic-Wine Sauce. Either is just right for even the coldest winter day.
The road we live on