The guanciale has been calling my name for a week. Today, I decided to answer. And before I had even mentioned my idea, Victor asked if I wanted him to make some homemade pasta.
[Oh, no, dear. I’d rather have something out of a bag. Really. Don’t trouble yourself…] Like, DUH!! Are you done, yet?!? Is it ready?!?
A dinner was born…
Guanciale is cured pig cheeks. It’s similar to bacon, but the fat is silken… there’s an earthier flavor… it’s richer… and totally worth the splurge.
Victor got into the kitchen first and made the pasta while I looked to see what kind of bread I wanted to bake.
Victor has always made his pasta on the counter by hand. Today, he made it in a food processor after seeing Lidia do it several times. It worked well! You just need to finish it off by hand to get the right feel. Like anything, you can take shortcuts when you know what the standard is supposed to be.
And we use Italian flour – Tipa ’00’ – for almost all of our cooking and baking. Even our semolina comes from Italy. The exception is when I buy Daisy Organic from Lancaster – local wheat. Yeah, it’s a bit more expensive, but I like the quality and the results. And I especially like it when Victor turns it into pasta!
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 cup semolina flour
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 tsp olive oil
- pinch salt
Mix flours and salt in food processor. Add eggs and oil and process until it all comes together in a ball. Seconds, really. It’s quick.
Remove from mixing bowl and knead a few times on the counter. Roll into a ball, cover, and let rest about 30 minutes.
Feed through your pasta roller and cut into strips. Victor made shorter papardelle than traditional because his mom can’t really handle long pastas, anymore. But unlike the Republican debates the other night, size doesn’t matter.
The pasta sauce came together quickly, thanks to already having sauce in the basement.
I pretty much just threw it together, so here’s a close approximation to what I did…
Pasta Sauce with Guanciale
- 12 oz guanciale
- 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 cup grated pecorino
- 4 cups simple pasta sauce
Saute guanciale in a large skillet until it completely renders its fat. Remove guanciale from pan and set aside. Saute onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in the fat until onions are well-wilted.
Add the guanciale back into the pan and continue cooking until onions are done.
Stir in the sauce and heat completely. Stir in the pecorino and stir until smooth and hot.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta, drain, and add to the sauce.
Sit down and eat.
It was a really simple dinner to pull together with each of us doing our part. Things took a bit of time, but much of it was just waiting for things – like the bread to rise before forming and baking. Victor has pasta-making down to a science. I know it would take me longer to make it, but it would take him longer to bake the bread. We each do the part we’re best at – and dinner is served!