We had a bit of a love-fest with pancetta this weekend. Joe came home from the grocery store this Friday afternoon with four thick slices of the king of all pork products… Maybe that’s a little overkill for two adults to work through in a weekend, but where there’s a will there’s a way. We crunched up pieces of the first slice and put it on our mushroom and shallot pizza for Friday’s main event. Saturday was steak night, so we used the second slice for this perfect steakhouse worthy side. I had some leftover potatoes and a request for homefries on Sunday morning, so after some careful research, I whipped up a batch of today’s featured recipe, pancetta home fries. I was most concerned with the crisp factor, as there’s nothing worse than soggy home fries. After some careful research, I decided to use Smitten Kitchen’s recipe as a reference. I was a little hesitant to believe that any recipe using a microwave would yield the crunch factor I was looking for, but this one certainly proved me wrong. Oh, touché! Par cooking these in the microwave allowed for thoroughly cooked potatoes on the inside with a perfectly golden crispy outer, while avoiding any burnt taters. These potatoes can go in so many directions, but, as I normally do, I raided the fridge and pantry and used whatever was on hand. The crunchy pancetta morsels, softened yellow onions, and bright green parsley made for a stellar Sunday morning breakfast side… Heck, we both agreed this would work well at dinner time, too.
Oh, and if you’re wondering what I did with the fourth slice – it’s still a a wild card this Sunday night. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments…
One more thing while we’re on the topic of pork: I went to Michael Symon’s book signing in Princeton a couple of weeks ago and had the honor of meeting the “Prince of Pork,” himself, as well as getting a signed copy of his latest book, Carnivore. Below you will find a snap of Joe and me with Symon. He was super down to earth and took the time to chat up everyone that came his way, sign books, and take as many photos as you wanted. What a guy!?
pancetta home fries
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1- 1/4″thick slice of pancetta (about 2 ounces), cut into small dice
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Arrange potatoes and 1 tablespoon of butter in a microwave safe bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave until the edges soften, about 5 – 7 minutes, shaking bowl about halfway through cooking.
Meanwhile, melt the other tablespoon of butter over medium to medium high heat in a large cast iron* skillet. Saute onions with a pinch of salt until golden brown and softened, approximately 6 minutes, careful not to burn. Transfer the onions to a small bowl and set aside. Add the pancetta dice and cook until crunchy and golden, approximately 3 – 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta into the bowl of onions. Add the olive oil and softened potatoes to the skillet. Pack down the potatoes into the pan using the bottom of a spatula. Resist the temptation and do not touch them for approximately 5 minutes – this is how you achieve that golden crust. Once you see the underside is golden, flip the potatoes over, pack down with the spatula again, and do not touch for another 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking potatoes for an additional 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until crispy and golden on all sides. Add onions and pancetta back to the skillet and cook for approximately 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add parsley, toss well, and serve immediately.
*I highly recommend this super reasonable, classic, and versatile piece of cookware for your kitchen arsenal. I am convinced it was one of the keys to my crunchy potato success and it seems to cook any and every thing I put in it to perfection.