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Deep Cuts, Volume 1: Pancetta Fantasia

Now that the summer rush is over, and the mayhem of December has only begun to fully impact our shop, I have had a lot of time to reflect on our products. Sure, they’re great (some award-winning). Sure, we as a deli have concocted a large number of sandwiches and platters to show them off. Sure, you may have read the blog posts and online reviews, or have yourself experienced dreaming about them. But have any of us fully experienced their potential? This new column is a stab at indexing the various applications and combinations of the products available at our humble deli. It originates from discussions with coworkers, my own experimentation, standard (free!) sample combinations we’re fond of offering to our beloved patrons, and NWS takes on classic dishes. Hopefully, it will someday incorporate NWS crew-approved suggestions from you, dear reader. These are some ideas from my first day of R&D. This will be serial. This is only the beginning.


First up, we have pancetta recipes. Pancetta is an Italian-style bacon made of pork belly meat. Here at NWS, we make our pancetta with high-quality Minnesota-raised Berkshire pork and smoke it to savory perfection. Though it is commonly served cold-cut, we most prominently feature crispy pancetta alongside maple-sage smoked turkey breast on our best-selling daily (Thursday) special, the Clubhaus. It’s also available for purchase by-weight from our deli—sliced is best for sandwiches, charcuterie arrangements and crispy bacon; otherwise I’d recommend a slab 1-2” thick.

 

Pancetta combinations

 

  • Pancetta & peas – This one speaks for itself. Cube some pancetta, strain a can of peas, fry up the pancetta in a pan, and once it’s bubbling in its own grease, throw in the peas. Serve it as is, as a side; or throw it over brown rice and call it a light meal.
  • Pancetta potatoes – Looking for a bit more bang for your buck? This tip is a favorite of our beloved owner, Eric. When you fry your pancetta, save the grease for delicious fried potatoes. Season with rosemary, thyme, or your choice of herbs.
  • The Pan-Cheddar – Brace yourself. To be honest, I am salivating, perspiring, and hyperventilating thinking about this one. It begins with a story:

Once upon a time, when NWS began selling Widmer’s (amazing!) Two-Year Cheddar, the staff lost their collective mind. We are big fans of snacking around here, and as such, we began experimenting with and munching on cubes of that sweet, sweet cheddar, until the time came that we had eaten more of the “Forbidden Cheddar” than we had sold. Those were decadent and magical times, and though they are missed, they will never be forgotten. One of my favorite experiments is a sandwich, which will probably never make it onto our menu, but is easily attainable for our customers. It has three ingredients—all available for purchase from our deli: pancetta, Widmer’s Two-Year Cheddar, and a bagel. The instructions are simple: in a pan or in the oven, melt as much cheddar as you see fit on top of as much pancetta as you see fit (a thin layer of cheddar over a quarter inch-thick slice of pancetta works for me, but really, go crazy); toast a bagel; put the two together; die and go to food heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

The possibilities of NWS smoked pancetta are as limitless as your imagination. Customers have often bragged to me of their delicious pancetta jam and soup recipes, though since they have yet to bring me any samples, the jury is still out—If I’m talking about you and you’re reading this, get at me: sales@nwsmokehaus.com cc: Ned. Anywhere you want a high flavor-impact meat to influence your dish, smoked pancetta is a worthwhile option. Or you could just take a page from my playbook and treat it as its own dish right off the slicer. I won’t judge you.

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