Monday, January 19, 2009

Primo Pancetta

I've never been a huge bacon fan. I don't mind it, but unlike my wife and my mother, who both love BLTs, I won't go out of my way to eat it.

So I've always been somewhat skeptical about pancetta, best described as Italian bacon. I'd seen it in the deli case at Liuzzi's (the best Italian deli I've yet found in Connecticut or anywhere) in all it's marbled glory, but never tried it.

My skepticism ended yesterday when I tried several recipes using pancetta in my recently arrived January Gourmet magazine. Given the brutally cold and snowy weather of the last few days, the winter minestrone soup looked especially appealing. The roast chicken with olives and pancetta equally so.

The result: heavenly, especially the chicken. The recipe called for breaking the chicken into 12 pieces, leg, thigh, wing, breast into 3 parts, and roasting at a high heat (450 degrees), which caramelized the pancetta on top of the chicken. The result were crispy bits bursting with salty pork flavor. Superb. The soup was nearly as good (I cut back considerably on the greens, about half what the recipe called for and put in too much pasta -- about half a pound will do -- but it was still outstanding). One bowl filled me up for the rest of the afternoon.

What cares what the doctor says about cholesterol. Viva pancetta!

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