Pancetta has a distinct spice that makes it a unique ingredient, enhancing the flavor of a wide array of dishes. Also known as Italian bacon, pancetta can add a punch to stews, pasta dishes, vegetables, and risotto. It makes an elegant appetizer, wrapped around asparagus, sprayed with olive oil and baked in a 350 degree F oven until crisp. For an exotic treat, wrap pancetta around pineapple slices and bake in the oven for a few minutes until the pineapple caramelizes a little and the pancetta clings onto the tropical fruit. The contrast of the sweet and sour pineapple to the salty and spicy pancetta is a memorable experience, and makes a sophisticated hors d’oeuvres.
Sautee some garlic and diced up pancetta then add fresh spinach, chard, kale, green beans, or broccoli and cook until the vegetables are tender or al dente. This makes a delicious side dish to meats or fish, or a light and healthy lunch topped over rice or savored with some potatoes. Sautéed pancetta also gives more spirit and life to risotto, polenta, or even fried rice.
Pancetta is perfect for adding into stuffing, whether it is chicken, turkey, onions, tomatoes, or mushrooms. Add it to cheese, ground meats, or other vegetables for a richer and more rounded stuffing. It can also be sautéed and sprinkled over stuffed or baked potatoes and will add color to salads and creamy pasta. One of the best ways to enjoy the full flavor of Pancetta is to grill thin slices and make a simple sandwich out of it. Add tomatoes and lettuce if you wish, for a gourmet version of BLT. For breakfast, nothing beats a classic dish of eggs and bacon. Try pancetta instead of the usual streaky bacon for a different routine. The un-smoked flavor of pancetta, spiced with fennel, nutmeg and pepper makes it quite an invigorating and unique treat.