07.17.11: dinner (simple Italian and…yeah, the Women’s World Cup)

True Grit. (click image for source)

I have a bunch of posts that should come before this one, but given the time-sensitivity of sports, it’s kind of necessary to write about the World Cup final hours after it ended. I heartily congratulate Japan on its World Cup win because it was well-deserved and came after a pretty epic performance by both teams. As happy as I was when Spain won last year, the game was tough to watch with the physical aggression and some playacting and diving and whatnot, so it was gratifying to see both of these teams comport themselves with grace, dignity, grit, tenacity and a hell of a lot of spirit. This was a game decided on playing football and not on bad calls or bad attitudes, and while I’m glad Japan has had a much-needed boost of national pride and joy, I want to thank the US Women’s National Team for one hell of a ride with this World Cup and for playing their hearts out on the pitch time and time again. It’s a performance that was extraordinary and inspiring, and while they faltered during the penalty kick phase of this game, they truly are the epitome of American sporstmanship.

OK–onto the food! 

Orecchiette with Smoked Pancetta

The game kind of dictated what our schedule was going to be on Sunday, because I wanted to make sure I was in front of the TV for all of it–even the good 45 minutes of pre-game coverage. (That seems excessive but when you consider all of the pre-game nonsense before the Super Bowl it actually comes off as insufficient in a way.)  So my nose was pressed into our copy of The Silver Spoon for much of the morning while I figured out what we were going to make for dinner, even while my father-in-law puttered about. I have more fun stories to tell about my in-laws and their weekend with us, but that is another post.

Orecchiette with Smoked Pancetta, closeup.

Anyway–onto Sunday dinner. So I wanted to make pasta and I wanted something comfort-like that would be delicious regardless of whether the USWNT won or not, so I flipped through The Silver Spoon and found a pasta dish that always intrigued me but I never made because it calls for cream and unlike my blog friends who own the cream-based pastas like champions, we shirk away from anything that calls for “heavy cream” thanks to a certain someone’s lactose intolerance. In all honesty, it’s stuff like this that keeps me feeling inspired to adapt recipes that call for cream and make them more accessible to those who can’t enjoy cream-based sauces, which feels like everyone today, so I am clearly doing a public service for the greater good.

Orecchiette with Smoked Pancetta, closeup.

And here’s the thing: it’s not difficult, because it’s based on the classic Roman preparation of pasta, but it simply adds in a few more ingredients because damnit, it tastes good.

Orecchiette with Smoked Pancetta

adapted from The Silver Spoon

serves 2 with copious leftovers

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 lb pancetta, cubed
  • 1 fresh hot chile, seeded and diced
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4-1/2 lb grated Pecorino Romano

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil to medium heat and add the pancetta and chile and cook for five minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and reduce the heat to low and cook the tomatoes and garlic for 25 minutes. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt and cook the pasta for about nine minutes, saving a cup of pasta water for later (two minutes less than package directions), drain, and add to the saute pan for about a minute (turn the heat off here), then add some cheese, then a splash of the pasta water, then more cheese and toss to coat. If the cheese is clumping, add more splashes of pasta water but less is more here–a little will go a long way. Toss vigorously to coat, serve in warmed bowls and enjoy.

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3 comments
  1. Tracy said:

    Delicious! We had spaghetti with a red calamari sauce. We watched the game while we ate. Pretty exciting.

  2. kat said:

    this looks amazing and soooo simple to make!! definitely going to save this to make for later :)

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