Sunday, April 4, 2010

10 Minute Meal: Rigatoni with Pancetta, Chestnuts, and Marsala Wine

rigatoni with pancetta, chestnuts, and marsala wine DSC_0007

When it comes to flavoring Italian dishes, the usual suspects come to mind -- garlic, shallots, and olive oil. Yet, pancetta, an Italian unsmoked pork belly that is cured with salt and spices such as fennel, nutmeg, and pepper, may just trump them all.

This once humble cured meat, sometimes referred to as "Italian bacon," is currently di rigeur. Pancetta can be found in panini with buffalo mozzarella, in broth for mussels, in pastas, such as carbonara, in winter vegetable mashes, such as smashed potatoes, and on pizzas and flatbreads. Cooked pancetta, which lacks bacon's smokiness, infuses dishes with a sweet, spicy, and salty pork flavor.

Sliced pancetta for sandwiches is available at most major supermarkets. Many recipes, however, call for diced or chopped pancetta, which usually means a trip to an Italian deli is in order. (While you're there, you might as well pick up some sharp provolone and Sicilian olives.) Ask for the slab of pancetta to be cut about 1/4 - 1/3-inch thick. When at home, use a very sharp knife to cut it. You won't need to add oil to the skillet when you cook, as it will cook in its rendered fat, becoming irresistibly crisp and chewy.


This Rigatoni with Pancetta, Chestnuts, and Marsala Wine is an exceptionally easy yet sophisticated mid-week meal that will make you feel like you're dining in an Italian restaurant. The entire dish can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta -- about 10 minutes. This recipe is all about balancing contrasting flavors so they create harmony: smoky chestnuts and spicy pancetta is tempered by sweet and smooth Marsala wine.

Rigatoni with Pancetta, Chestnuts, and Marsala Wine
Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

1 pound rigatoni
8 ounces pancetta, diced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2/3 cup Marsala wine
8 ounces cooked chestnuts, quartered
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Cook the pasta in salted water according to directions, until al dente.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add pancetta. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Add shallot and cook 2-3 minutes, until tender. Add Marsala wine; cook for 2 minutes. Add chestnuts, herbs, and salt and pepper.

3. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet. Toss until well coated. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, if desired.

You might also enjoy these pasta recipes from Food Blogga:
Sicilian Sardine and Broccoli Rabe Pasta
Rigatoni with Walnut, Parsley, and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown Butter
Italian Macaroni and Cheese with Pancetta (Made with Fontiago cheese.)

Here are more delicious pancetta recipes you might enjoy:
Goat Cheese with Pancetta recipe at Chez Us
Fennel Pancetta Pizza recipe at Stephen Cooks
Chicken, Pancetta, and Swiss Panini recipe at Panini Happy
Orecchiette with Broccoli and Pancetta recipe at Amateur Gourmet