Linguine with Garlic Oil and Pancetta
Three ingredients: one great supper. I like this greedily mounded in a bowl and taken up to bed to be eaten, or rather shoveled in, in front of the television. But that’s not obligatory.
Good pancetta is not found everywhere (check out butchers and delicatessens), so it makes sense, when you buy it, to get a few 8-ounce blocks. Freeze them separately then just take each one out of the freezer in the morning and return after work to have this fat-striped slab of Italian bacon ready and at your disposal in the evening. Otherwise, you could buy a packet of lardons—those diced bacon cubes—from the supermarket or even use ordinary bacon, snipped into straggly bits. Just bear in mind that cut-up bacon will not need more than about 5 minutes in the hot, aromatic fat to cook.
Of course you could cook the pancetta or bacon in a frying pan, but why I like using the oven is that it needs no supervision. You can put the pancetta in the oven, put the pasta in the boiling, salted water, go up and run yourself a bath (taking your timer with you) and then come down and just drain and toss and dinner’s made.
And naturally you can use whatever pasta you like, it’s just that linguine (a long pasta that’s wider than spaghetti and thicker than tagliatelle) is my favorite—a good reason, it seems to me, to specify it here.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCooking for a date
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturemeaty, savory
Type of Dishdry pasta, pasta
- 2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
- 8 ounces pancetta
- 8 ounces linguine
Preheat the oven to 500°F.
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. While it’s heating up, put the garlic olive oil in an ovenproof dish; I use an enamel Le Creuset one, measuring 12 x 8 inches. Remove the rind from the pancetta and put it in the dish (to render down: you want as much bacony juices as possible), then dice the rest of the pancetta and add these cubes to the oil, smooshing them about with your fingers to make sure they’re equally, if lightly, coated. When the water is boiling, put the dish of garlic-oiled pancetta in the oven, then salt the boiling water and add the linguine; these should need about 10 minutes to cook. When the pasta is ready, drain it, reserving a scant cupful of the cooking water and take the pancetta dish out of the oven. Tip the drained linguine into the dish and toss well, adding some of the pasta-cooking water, drop by cautious drop, for lubrication as you need it.
And that’s it: I like this without Parmesan, but a sprinkling of roughly scissored parsley, should you feel inclined, is always a good idea.
2002 Nigella Lawson