Take a Culinary Trip to Italy While Staying Home
Published May 14, 2020
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16 min
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    [REBROADCAST] Italian cookbook author Elizabeth Minchilli joins us to discuss her cookbook, The Italian Table: Creating festive meals for family and friends.

     

    Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Minchilli 

     

    Spaghetti alla Vigliacca

    COWARD’S SPAGHETTI

    This sauce is all about the pancetta. It uses a HUGE amount of pancetta per person. It is what it is. And what it is, is amazing. When my daughter Sophie and I were at Rocco’s recently we got into a discussion with the owners about the amount of pancetta in the dish, because the quantity was more than you’d usually see atop a plate of pasta. Sophie was definitely on “Team More” with Rocco the chef. I felt

    it was a bit too much. The following recipe is the happy medium. But one thing to keep in mind is that since pancetta is the only thing going on here, try to get ahold of the best pancetta possible. Definitely do not substitute bacon and absolutely do not use anything smoked. While Trattoria Rocco makes this with run-of-the-mill spaghetti, and it’s pretty great, when I make it I try to use a more artisanal brand like Faella or Gentile from Gragnano. The quality really does make a difference. You can serve the dish with ground chile pepper (Rocco sprinkles a bit along the edges of each plate). Traditionally this dish is not served with grated cheese.

    If you’re wondering why it’s called Spaghetti alla Vigliacca, I have no idea. And after much research, seemingly no one else does either. SERVES 4 OR 5

    reserved pasta water. Turn up the heat and finish cooking the pasta, mixing well to distribute the pancetta and fats over the strands of spaghetti. Garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately.

    NOTE The pancetta pieces tend to congregate at the bottom of the pan or bowl. When serving, stir well and make sure everyone gets their fair share of pancetta!

     

    3/4 pound pancetta 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil,

    plus an additional tablespoon if needed

    2 or 3 small Italian dried or fresh chile peppers (peperoncino), to taste

    Sea salt, for the cooking water 1 pound of spaghetti Minced parsley for garnish

    Pancetta often comes with the skin attached; if so, trim this off with a sharp knife. Slice the pancetta against the grain into 1/4-inch slices. Cut each slice into 1/4-inch pieces, across the rows of fat, resulting in about 11/2 cups of little log-shaped, fat-striated pieces.

    Pour the olive oil into a pan large enough to fit the drained pasta later, then add the pancetta and chile peppers. Turn on the heat to medium- low and let the pancetta cook slowly and render its fat slowly. The desired texture is chewy; it shouldn’t burn or even become crispy. While you are cooking it, if it looks very dry, as if there isn’t enough fat, add another tablespoon of olive oil. You can tell it is done when the fat loses its translucent look and becomes opaque. It should take 10 minutes or so. Remove from the heat.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until almost al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pan with the pancetta, along with the reserved pasta water. Turn up the heat and finish cooking the pasta, mixing well to distribute the pancetta and fats over the strands of spaghetti. Garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately.

     

    NOTE The pancetta pieces tend to congregate at the bottom of the pan or bowl. When serving, stir well and make sure everyone gets their fair share of pancetta!

     

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