Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks

Words cannot describe to you how much I love this recipe. Words cannot describe to you how much LSB loves this recipe. Words cannot describe to you how endearing this makes me to LSB.

It’s a keeper.

It’s Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks.

I nabbed this recipe from The Pioneer Woman a little while ago and it has never, ever, EVER led me astray.

Now let me say this, and I’ll be saying it a lot I’m sure: I love The Pioneer Woman and her blog. Literally, there is not one part of it that does not make me happy. Her dogs, her kids, her cooking, and her photography are all simply stunning and wonderful. She has a new show on the Food Network on Saturday mornings and I have faithfully DVRed and watched every single one. (Let’s be honest here: Saturday mornings and I will never be well-acquainted. DVRing is much more reliable than me getting up every Saturday morning.)

So with this love I have I debated for so long which recipe of hers to feature on this blog first. Being as this is the single most requested food in my household, I settled on this one. Oh also, it’s easy, cheap and delicious.

Make it. Any time of year, any time of day, any time at all. I would probably gladly eat this on Thanksgiving day, and LSB would too.

So here we go. First, what you’ll need. 12 ounces (or so) of pasta (I like PW’s suggestion of farfalle or, for people like me, bowties – it just plain old works perfectly), dry white wine, 4 oz. of pancetta (chopped or if you have to shop at Harris Teeter, this thinly-sliced stuff), 3 leeks, and half and half (PW uses cream and would probably fall straight over onto her floor if she heard I used half and half instead of cream, but here’s a secret: it tastes delicious either way), and some parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not the grated “stuff” in the green tube).

First, cook up the bowtie (farfalle) pasta, drain it, and put it aside. Forget to take pictures. But just keep it damp and you’ll be golden. PW suggests keeping some reserve water, but I have never, ever, ever needed it.

Then, chop off the ends of the leeks.

Cut off that Pauly-D hair part and then right as it starts getting dark cut those leaf things off too. Discard both ends. The light green to white part is the only part you use.

Then slice the leek up. And repeat for all three leeks.

Once you’re done with all three leeks, throw them in a colander and rinse them off, getting all that dirt from this root vegetable off.

Have I mentioned this before? Leeks are delicious. Don’t be afraid of them, embrace them.

We’ll be back in just a little bit for this.

So now, if your pancetta isn’t already chopped up, chop your pancetta up into little pieces.

And throw it in a medium-hot pan until the fat starts to render.

Here’s what it looks like when the fat starts to render.

Stop it! The pan is hot! Don’t reach in and eat the pancetta straight from here! There is more to do. You won’t regret it.

Now is the time to put in the leeks.

Don’t worry, they’ll break up as they lose water and you stir it around for about 10 minutes.

If you want, you can put some butter (a spoonful or so) in here. I can’t remember if I did or not this time, but I’ve done it both ways, and again, they’re both delicious.

And while you’re waiting, take that parmeggian-reggiano cheese (spelling? I wish I were Italian…) and make slices. I use a potato peeler, but go ahead and use a more normal method if you like.

Take a slice or two and taste it. Realize that you could probably just eat this entire block of cheese right here and be satisfied.

Restrain yourself and realize that LSB would never look at you the same way again.

Reconsider despite of this.

But persevere and restrain!

And by the time you’ve had this internal battle it’s around 8-10 minutes later – mine is always closer to 10 minutes – the time for the half cup of wine is here.

Here’s how I measure out a half cup of wine. Are you ready? It’s super precise.

Pour a glass of wine.

Take a sip of this glass of wine.

And that’s it! Now pour that precisely-measured half cup of wine into the leek and pancetta mixture.

Now pour yourself another glass of wine. You wouldn’t want to hurt the wine glass’ feelings.

Also, stir this mixture around for about 2 minutes. The wine will reduce and make this mixture even MORE delicious, believe it or not.

After it’s reduced, reduce the heat to low.

And then pour in a half cup of half and half (or cream if you’re being wonderful like Ree, the Pioneer Woman).

Stir this around just a bit and now add in some of those beautiful, wonderful, tasty, delicious slices of parmesan cheese.

Let those melt. It will thicken up the sauce.

Then turn off the heat entirely.

And put in that pasta you made a while ago. Remember the pasta? I bet you almost forgot.

Stir it around. And be amazed that you. just. made. this.

I wish I could find words to describe just how heavenly this is.

I can’t.

Just make it and see.

I serve it with a few more slices of parmesan on it, and then I die of happiness.

It’s true! I’m writing this from Heaven! This is served for lunch every day here.

Ok just kidding. But I hope it is!

Here’s the Pioneer Woman recipe again, in its entirety. My comments/modifications are in italics.

Oh and Ree, you’re my hero.


  • 12 ounces, weight Pasta, Cooked Al Dente
  • Reserved Pasta Water, If Needed
  • 3 ounces, weight Chopped Pancetta
  • 3 whole Leeks, Sliced Thin
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/2 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (half and half)
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
  • Parmesan Cheese, Shaved

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta and set aside. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Saute chopped pancetta until fat is rendered and it starts to brown. Add sliced leeks and cook for 8 minutes. When you add the leeks, you can also throw in a pat or two of butter if you want to. This’ll give the dish some scrumptious flavor. I add it after the bacon is browned because I don’t want the butter to brown. After 8 to 10 minutes, pour in wine, then cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until reduced. Reduce heat to low, then pour in cream (half and half). Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in Parmesan shavings. Toss in pasta, adding a little pasta water to thin as needed. Serve with Parmesan shavings over the top—delicious! (Delicious indeed!)


4 thoughts on “Pasta with Pancetta and Leeks

  1. OMG I want to cook this right now! And I was so happy when you poured a second glass of wine because you certainly know I would never want to hurt the feelings of my wine glass!

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