Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pasta with Three Porks

It wasn't part of the plan, yet I couldn't resist.

I had made a trip to the butcher for pork-product replenishment, which meant getting the pancetta and slab bacon that are so crucial to the success of so many of our meals, even when these meats are minced to near invisibility. (Just wait till you try my "vegetable" soup.) While I was at the market, I picked up some hot sausage for tonight's dinner.

As the sausage browned on the stove, I wrapped slices of pancetta and chunks of bacon for the freezer. Suddenly I was seized by the idea of going the extra mile and throwing some pancetta -- not much, just a little -- into the tomato sauce I was making for the sausage. I tore off a little piece and chopped it, then I went back to wrapping.

A minute passed. No, I couldn't, I thought, I shouldn't. And then I did. I chopped a little bit of bacon too. Not much, just a little.

Now, I don't think it's ever strictly necessary to flavor a dish with both pancetta and bacon, but they were right there in front of me and I could easily take just the modest amount I wanted before I froze the rest.

I'd like to believe the sauce possessed an uncommon depth of flavor and that this was due to the presence of pork in so many different forms. That might even be true -- it was certainly great fun to eat, and Margy loved it. I can't say for sure, though. I do know this: That moment early on in the sauce-making process, after I had browned and removed the sausages and then thrown the pancetta and bacon in the pan, was quite a thrill. The aroma was intoxicating. The pig was in the house, times three.

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