Spaghetti with Pork Belly

This has to be one of the best pasta sauces I’ve ever made – no recipe, nothing fancy – it just lets the ingredients speak.

  • 1/2 lb pork belly, cut into lardons (about 1/4 strips – skin and all)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 or 6 Roma tomatoes – I combined canned and fresh (a little overripe is best)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Saute the pork in a pan until it’s brown and starting to get crispy. Remove the pork, but leave the fat in the pan (there won’t be too much – I had about a tablespoon). Saute the garlic and onion in the fat. Once the onion becomes translucent, then add the tomatoes and herbs, salt and pepper and a bit of sugar.I let it simmer for a few minutes, then added the pork while the pasta was cooking.

After about 5 minutes, most of the liquid from the tomatoes had reduced down, so I added 1/2 cup of chicken stock (homemade) to thin it out. TIP: Taste constantly – as the liquids reduce and flavors concentrate you need to pay attention so you can compensate – too acid, add more sugar, etc. I always finish off the pasta in the pan with the sauce. Cook it till right before al dente, then add it in. The liquid in the sauce will complete the cooking and some of the flavours will be absorbed into the pasta. Also, some of the starch from the pasta water will help thicken the sauce (don’t drain the pasta – lift it out of the water with tongs or a pasta insert – it’s OK to bring some of the cooking water along). Do a final taste for salt right after you add the pasta (remember, you’re supposed to have salt in your pasta water…).
Serve with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

OK, this is a new topic. Splurge on a hunk of real cheese – never, ever buy that dried out grit in the green can. Also, notice that I didn’t say “fresh” parmigiano – I hate it when recipes call it that. It’s aged for 12 months, so “fresh” just doesn’t make sense. And, if possible, try to get a hunk that has some rind on it – this is the most fragrant part of the wheel and has the best flavour (don’t worry, the rind won’t go to waste – you can use it in soups, etc.) [end cheese rant]

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