We’re never surprised at how reliable the cookbooks from River Cafe are as in general they celebrate fabulous ingredients with simple cooking methods; our favourite way to cook too. This is a rich dish and works best served in small portions as a starter.
Wine Suggestion: The richness and parmesan cry out for higher acidity in the wine. We combined this idea with the almost bacon-ny yeasty and almondy autolysis of a sparkling Trento DOC, the Ferrari Perlé Nero Riserva. Body, richness, nuttiness and freshness; a great combo with the pasta.
When choosing between Italian sparkling wines we find the Trento DOC area has a bit more body and richness than the creamier and refined Franciacorta. This is not to say that top producers like Ferrari don’t have refinement, they do in spades, but that there is a lightness and elegance to be found in Franciacorta. Too light for this dish. Both areas produce some stunning wines.
Spaghetti with parsley, pancetta & parmesan – serves 6
- 8 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 3 medium red onions, finely chopped
- 200g pancetta, finely sliced, then cut into 5mm pieces plus an extra Rose 6 thin slices (one each)
- 400g spaghetti
- 150g butter
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 dried red chilli or a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
- olive oil
- 120g Parmesan, grated
Gently heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, then add the pancetta and garlic. Turn down the heat, stir and continue to cook for a further 10 minutes. You can turn up a bit again at the end if you want the pancetta to crisp up. Season well with salt, pepper and the dried chilli. Stir in the parsley.
Heat a small frying pan, brush with oil, and fry the slices of pancetta to crisp them. Drain on paper towels.
Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, but scoop out a few tablespoons of the cooking water first. Throw the spaghetti into the warm parsley mixture and toss, adding a little of the pasta water to help the sauce coat the pasta.
Serve with lots of Parmesan and a slice of pancetta on each bowl.
(Original recipe from River Cafe Green by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers, Martin Gray, 2000.)