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February 8, 2008 / Tony

Pancetta Tomato Sauce over Linguine

I pretty much winged this recipe as I went along.  The idea, of course, was to use my homemade Pancetta to add some heartiness and flavor to my favorite marinara sauce recipe (albeit modified).  I really had no idea how it was going to turn out but I was really pleased with the result.  Here’s what I did. 

Pancetta Tomato Sauce over Linguine

4 oz Pancetta, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

Water, if needed

Kosher salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Put a bit of olive oil in a large saute pan or a saucepan along with the Pancetta.  Turn the heat on the medium low and let it cook for about 20 minutes, or until the Pancetta just begins to turn crisp.  (No need to have all sides crisp.)  Add the onions and continue to cook for another 20-30 minutes, or until the onions are deeply caramelized.

In the meantime, drain the tomatoes in a strainer over a bowl, reserving the liquid.  When the onions is caramelized, add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, and the herbs.  Increase the heat to medium, and cook until the tomatoes begin to leave brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Then add the reserved tomato juice and use it to deglaze the pan.  Cook for another 10-15 minutes to let the flavors meld.  Now, depending on how much your tomatoes broke down during cooking (or how chunky you like your sauce) you may need to put the sauce in a blender or use a stick blender on it.  Also, depending on numerous factors, the sauce might be a bit thick.  Add some warm water to thin, if needed.  Finally, taste the sauce and adjust any seasoning.  Serve over cooked linguine. 

Here’s a picture:


What I really liked about this recipe was the meatiness I got from just 4 ounces of Pancetta.  It infused the whole dish with it’s porky goodness.  Bacon, I suppose, could be substituted but I think the smokiness of the bacon would actually detract from the floral qualities of the tomatoes and be too aggressive of a flavor in the dish.  I also liked how it added this meatiness while really regressing into the background.  Especially if you blend the sauce, it’s not easy to pick out the Pancetta.  It sort of just hides and hangs out in the background.  Yet, it made the sauce unimaginably better. 

One last note.  I used the model of my favorite marinara sauce but made two related changes to it.  First, I didn’t use wine.  The reason for this is that my Lenten sacrifice is to not consume alcohol so while wine in dishes is OK with me, I just didn’t want to have an almost full bottle of wine hanging around.  So, the second change of the addition of tomato paste was needed to replace the flavor the wine would have given to the dish.  To be absolutely honest, I’m not sure if this isn’t the better way to go anyway. 


One Comment

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  1. Phil Blancher / Jul 11 2009 5:43 pm

    Thank you for this. I used Shallots instead of the onion and did my pasta in chicken stock. VERY GOOD.

    Cheers – Phil

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