Mise en place - I just wanted to throw that out there. It simply means "everything in place." And it's in my nature to be organized and as efficient as possible. So you'll never find me scrambling for ingredients when I'm cooking. I always have my mise en place in place before I begin. :)
Yesterday was cold and wet here in NYC, so I wanted something warm and hearty for dinner. My first thought was a noodle dish with maybe some spicy chorizo - unfortunately, I didn't lay my hands on any chorizo. So instead I opted for some thick slabs of pancetta, diced and cooked until crispy. And I knew the "sauce" for my pasta was going to basically consist of the pancetta fat, a bit of olive oil, butter, and some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. At the last minute I decided to throw in some garlic (GREAT addition) and some sun-dried tomatoes (delicious - however next time I think I'll go with fresh cherry or grape tomatoes thrown into the heat during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking). Looking back, some fresh parsley would have been a nice addition as well. Yet it's not like I'm complaining, we both nearly licked the pasta bowls clean!
1/2 pound thick sliced pancetta, cut into cubes
1 package egg noodles
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thin (or fresh cherry tomatoes, halved)
1 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons butter
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
First a note - because of the pancetta and cheese, this dish does NOT need any additional salt (and surprisingly, not even in the pasta water). Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. The bag of pasta I used suggested a cooking time of 6 - 9 minutes. As a rule, I always use the minimum suggested time, and subtract at least a minute so that I can finish cooking the pasta in the pan with the sauce. So I cooked mine for only 5 minutes.
In a large saute pan, heat up the pancetta with a small amount of olive oil. Cook until the pancetta starts to brown & crisp nicely. Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (if using fresh, wait to add these for another minute or so). Cook for 3 minutes to soften them both. Toss the butter into the pan and melt completely. Drain the pasta (if you don't have a pan that allows you to retain your pasta water, make sure to save a bit in case you need it), and drop the pasta into the pan with the sauce. Sprinkle with pepper, and stir through to finish cooking the pasta, and to make sure the sauce is evenly distributed. Pour in the grated cheese as you're stirring - at this point the cheese started to make the dish thick, so I spooned in about 1/2 cup of pasta water to thin it out a bit. Pour the pasta into a pasta bowl, and shave a bit of cheese over the top.