Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pork skin, meatballs, red wine

What to do with a small piece of home-made pancetta, some pasta and a bottle of red wine?

Take a piece of pancetta, rind-on, about the size of the back of your hand. Soak it in water for a while. During the soak, braise some finely-diced onion, carrot and celery in a little olive oil until soft, adding some bay leaves, thyme and garlic towards the end. Lift the heat, add some white wine, bubble it off for a bit then top up with stock and chopped tomato. Add the soaked pancetta and cook the sauce out very slowly for seven hours or so (try a simmer pad).

Make some meatballs. All pork mince is fine. Get some garlic into the pork mix plus seasoning and grated zest of a lemon. Work the mix until it sticks to the bowl. You are aiming for lightness of flavour here and a worked texture, not something loose and open.

When the sauce is ready, pull out the pancetta. Strip off the skin and cut into small strips. Break up the pancetta meat and return to the sauce. Fry off the meatballs and then give them a little time in the sauce while you cook off your pasta (spaghetti works well with this). When the pasta is just shy of done, add it to the pan of sauce and meatballs and finish it off.

What you should have is a depth of flavour in the ragu and a lightness (leavened by the lemon rind) in the meatballs. The thin pieces of slow-cooked rind and the pasta will have textures that play off each other too. You might find yourself wanting more rind next time...

And for wine? Try a bottle of Masi's Campofiorin ripasso wine, using rondinella and corvina grapes. It has depth enough to handle the sauce, without overbearing the other flavours. I opened a bottle of the 1995 Masi Campofiorin, which looked like a good, aged red underneath the oxidised characters. Thank you cork. A fall back bottle of Preston Peak 2008 Sagrantino from Queensland's Granite Belt did a fine job as a backup bottle.


  1. .....I was going to write something intelligent, then had to wipe my saliva off the screen before I could see what I was actually typing. So ladylike of me... :-S

  2. Thanks Krystina. Was a good dinner that night. Funny how sometimes those scrag ends of stuff like smallgoods can make the best dishes.

  3. I actually have some home-made pancetta that was given to me as a belated birthday gift...meaning...I definitely think I will give that ridiculously-slow-cooked sugo a go in the not too distant future. Will let you know how it goes :-)