Homemade Orecchiette with Pancetta and Fresh Peas
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- 1 cup semolina flour
- 1 cup 00 pasta flour or All-Purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¾ cup warm water
- 8 ounces diced pancetta or bacon
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 1 large shallot, sliced thin
- ¾ cup white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 cups fresh peas
- 2 Tablespoons fresh dill, basil or tarragon or even all 3!- chopped
Combine the semolina, flour and salt. Place in a pile on a clean, dry surface and create a well in the center. Slowly pour the warm water and olive oil inside the well. Use your finger or a fork to stir the water into the flour mixture. When the dough begins to come together press on it, using your palms and knead until all the flour is combined. The dough should feel slightly dry but not crumbly. If it feels too dry spritz with additional water. Continue kneading the dough, pushing down with your palm and rotating the dough each time you push. Do this until your arm hurts… roughly 8 minutes!
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside while you start the sauce. Place the pancetta in a large sauté pan and cook on medium heat until the pancetta is just starting to brown on the edges. Add the garlic and shallot and stir to combine, being sure the bottom of the pan isn’t getting brown and crusty. Season with salt and cook 1 minute until the garlic and shallot are soft but not caramelized. Pour off any excess fat. Add the wine and reduce by half. Immediately add the cream and bring just to a boil. Turn off and set aside, off the heat, while you make the pasta.
Prepare a cookie sheet dusted with a generous amount of flour and semolina. Cut a small piece of dough off and recover the remaining. Gently roll the small piece into an even thick snake shape, roughly ½ inch wide. Use a butter knife to cut a ½ inch piece off. Continuing to use the butter knife, roll the knife over the pasta, while pressing down, being sure your finger is on the straight side, not the blade side – the motion is a “rolling” towards your body. The pasta will end up being a round, or oddly round shape. Try to press as evenly as possible so the dough is even in thickness. Take the circle of dough and curve it over the tip of your finger to create a dome shape. Place on the floured cookie sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough, trying to make your orecchiette are as even in size as possible. When all your dough is rolled out prepare to cook your pasta.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently add enough pasta to the water to not overcrowd. Stir gently and simmer for roughly 3-4 minutes until the pasta is cooked through, but still toothsome. Strain and immediately add to the sauce. While your pasta is cooking bring your sauce back up to a simmer and add the peas and cheese. Immediately add the cooked pasta and fresh herbs. Simmer on low for 1 minute until the pasta is well coated and sauce is thick. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper and additional cheese if desired. Serve immediately.