Fettuccine with a delicate sauce of asparagus and crispy pancetta (Italian bacon)
Fettuccine, is a very flexible type pasta. It pairs well with many, many sauces, just like wines pair well with different types of foods. When you find fresh asparagus at peak season, it’s a great time to make this delicious dish. Here in Italy we have different varieties of asparagus. When we were kids, our parents brought us for a traditional stroll in the countryside to pick wild asparagus. It still brings a moment of happiness and connection with nature. This explains how this tradition survived, and why we still love asparagus in Italian Spring Cuisine.
500 gr (1 lb) Fettuccine (handmade fresh pasta is best – see pasta making recipe for instructions)
1 clove garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
600 gr (1.3 lb) Asparagus
200 gr (0.4 lb) of pancetta (can substitute extra thick, center cut, sliced bacon)
50 gr (1.7 oz) of grated Parmigiano
Ground black pepper
Put water in a medium-sized pot to boil the asparagus. Rinse the asparagus under cold running water. Once boiling, add salt and the whole asparagus. After 10 minutes, drain the asparagus with the help of a skimmer. Arrange on a plate and let them cool (do not discard the cooking water).
Chop the pancetta (bacon) into strips, removing the rind. Heat a small-sized sauté pan, add the pancetta strips and brown it. When the pancetta is golden brown, turn off the heat and drain it from the fat with the help of a skimmer. Put the pancetta on a plate where you have placed two sheets of paper towels (this will completely eliminate excess fat).
Bring the water we blanched the asparagus in back to a boil.
Now chop the previously blanched asparagus as follows: remove a part of the stem, coarsely chop the rest into slanted slices and save 12 intact tips, which will be used to garnish the final plate.
In a medium-sized sauté pan, add a clove of garlic and five tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil, sauté for 2 minutes, until the garlic is golden brown. At this point add the coarsely cut asparagus and sauté for about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic and turn off the heat. Add two ladles of boiling asparagus cooking water to the sautéed asparagus, and blend with the immersion blender. At this point you should obtain a cream of asparagus.
With a meat mallet, crumble the pancetta.
Salt the boiling water in the big pot, and add the fettuccine. Cook for 8 minutes. Drain them and add them to the asparagus cream in the medium-sized sauté pan and stir over medium heat.
Serve by adding a pinch of pepper, a sprinkle of parmesan, chopped pancetta and three asparagus tips per plate.
This dish pairs nicely with a Trebbiano white wine.