FAGIOLINI ITALIANA CON PANCETTA
(Italian Green Beans with Bacon)
4 or 5 slices pancetta or bacon
1 lb Italian green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
In a large skillet, cook the pancetta or bacon over medium heat until crisp, turning occasionally. Remove when crisp and drain on paper towels, reserving about 2 tablespoons of drippings in the skillet.
Meanwhile, in separate saucepans, precook the green beans and the carrots in small amounts of boiling salted water for 4 or 5 minutes; drain. (Note: you can also steam the vegetables to retain more nutrients, flavor, and color.)
Add the partially cooked green beans, carrots, butter, and garlic to the reserved bacon drippings in the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Crumble the bacon and stir it into the vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with freshly grated Parmesan if desired.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
As always, I recommend high quality ingredients. Use fresh vegetables if possible. Frozen are okay, but stay away from canned. Use unsalted butter. Salted is okay if you must, but watch your seasoning later. (That greasy, yellow-colored cousin of solid vegetable shortening, margarine, does not exist in my kitchen.) Use fresh garlic. Garlic powder is okay but lacks the depth of flavor imparted by fresh. Same with the pepper. Pre-ground pepper is weak compared to freshly ground. I use kosher salt for everything, but sea salt is good, too. If you want to garnish with Parmesan cheese and all you have is the sawdust-like substance that comes in a can, just skip it. You'll be better off. There's a reason Parmigiano-Reggiano is the "King of Cheeses." A "princely" domestic Parmesan is acceptable if the "King" is unavailable, but the "fool" in the green can should always be barred from the court.