Tagliatelle with Pancetta and Parsnips
Courtesy Mario Batali
- 1 recipe basic pasta dough, recipe follows
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 pound pancetta, or good quality bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (The only pancetta I could find was in really really thin slices, but I think that actually worked better than if it had been in chunks)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I skipped this and just used the bacon grease instead)
- 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch half moons (omit the thickest part of the ends)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped to yield 1/4 cup
- Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Roll out the pasta dough to the thinnest setting on a pasta machine (flea market find for €3). Cut the dough crosswise into 1/4-inch strips (I just used the cutter on my machine). Place the tagliatelle on a sheet tray that has been dusted with semolina flour (which I strangely actually had in the cupboard), cover with a clean dish towel, and set aside until ready to use.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt (or, ya know, fill up the pan and just dump in some salt).
In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, cook the pancetta over high heat until it is browned and the fat has been rendered, about 10 minutes. Add the butter (skipped) and parsnips and saute over high heat without shaking the pan too much until they are golden brown and slightly crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper, add the parsley, and cook 1 minute longer.
Cook the tagliatelle in the boiling water until tender yet al dente, about 2 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the pan with the pancetta and the parsnips. Toss over high heat to coat the pasta, adding pasta cooking water if necessary to keep the sauce form getting too tight (I ended up using about 1/2 a cup of the pasta water for a 1/2 batch of this recipe). Divide equally among 4 heated pasta bowls, grate Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top of each bowl, and serve immediately.
Basic Pasta Dough
(I halved the recipe for 2 people)
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus more, as needed (I used a 2:1 ratio of whole wheat flour and white flour)
4 extra-large eggs
Mound 3 cups of flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the eggs. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well. As you incorporate the eggs, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). The dough will come together in a shaggy mass when about half of the flour is incorporated. (I think this is a lie. It doesn't come together in a shaggy mass when about half the flour is incorporated so I picked it up and kneaded it with my hands until it was a ball)
Start kneading the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. Add more flour, in 1/2-cup increments, if the dough is too sticky (sticky was not a problem). Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up any left over dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 3 more minutes (by this time the dough was so dry I was worried I would have a disaster if I didn't intervene. I wet my hands several times as I was kneading to incorporate a little moisture but not so much that I ended up with a soggy goopy mess). The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another 3 minutes, remembering to dust your board with flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature. Roll and form as desired.
Note: Do not skip the kneading or resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta.
The Verdict: I loved everything about this recipe. The slight sweetness of the parsnips went really well with the pancetta and the modified pasta was even good! If you needed a really quick dinner I'd just use ready made pasta. Four thumbs up for this one.