Penne with Pancetta and Parisienne cream

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It is really cold, but today is the first day of Spring.  That makes me think of warm earth in the garden, which leads my thoughts to the first thing to sprout, fresh chives.  I had to find a way to get chives into a yummy weeknight dinner.  Not only does this recipe accomplish that, it is also quick and easy to prepare and is a hit with everyone in the house.  It's a creamy, savory dish with flavors that interact nicely on the palate.  A smaller portion goes a long way toward creating a satisfied diner in every chair at the table.  Serve it with a simple green salad and a warm crusty baguette to wipe up every last bit of sauce on the plate.

Penne with Pancetta and Parisienne Cream
makes 4 servings

8 ounces Penne pasta
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup heavy cream
1 extra large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon minced fresh chives
Freshly grated Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese

Bring 5 quarts salted water to a boil over high heat, add the pasta, and stir to prevent sticking.  Cook according to package directions.  While the pasta cooks, saute the pancetta in a non-stick skillet until browned and crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a paper towel to drain.  

In another saucepan large enough to hold the pasta, combine the cream, egg yolk, and mustard.  Bring to a simmer and whisk to blend.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drain the pasta well and immediately add to the cream sauce.  Toss to coat the pasta with the cream sauce; let rest for 1-2 minutes.  Add the cooked pancetta and chives; stir to combine.  Taste for seasoning and transfer to warm plates.  Garnish with the Parmigianno-Reggiano and serve immediately. 

Source: Adapted from The Paris Cookbook, by Patricia Wells


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