Friday means one thing in our test kitchen: fridge cleanout lunch! We had an abundance of pancetta and dried pasta, so I decided to throw together a quick and easy meal that our team of Feedfeed editors inhaled. Rendered pancetta is tossed with garlic and chiles before getting simmered with tomatoes for a rich and spicy sauce that gets tossed with pasta and tons of grated Parm. It's a dish that leans on flavor-heavy ingredients to add a punch without having to simmer your red sauce for hours.
I'll share just a few tips and tricks to ensure pasta perfection. First, always start rendering your pancetta in a cold pan, allowing for fat to render while it gets golden. Then, make sure you turn the heat down before adding your tomatoes or you'll have sauce and hot grease pop all over your clothes. Finally, save your pasta water! It's the optimal liquid to thin out the sauce while still adding body to the finished dish. Follow these rules and you'll show your friends and family who's the sauce.
- 8 ounces diced pancetta
- 6 thinly sliced garlic cloves
- 2 thinly sliced red chiles, such as Fresno
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 6 sprigs thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine
- 1 (3 inch) Parmesan rind
- Salt, to taste
- 1 pound dry spaghetti or bucatini
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Add pancetta to a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until golden and the fat has rendered, 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and chile, then cook until fragrant and golden, 1-2 minutes. Stir in both cans of tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Submerge thyme sprigs and Parmesan rind in the sauce, then cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly reduced, 10 minutes. Season with salt.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water, then add both to the simmering sauce, tossing with the grated Parmesan to coat. Adjust for seasoning.
Divide between bowls and garnish with more grated Parmesan, then serve.