As a big fan of corn, pancetta, and pasta, one would think that combining them would be a no brainer. However, I never thought of it. And why would you? Pasta is Italian and corn is American. And Italian-American food has been relegated to cheap restaurants that those in the know would never eat at (apparently I am not in the know and I’m pretty happy there).
This recipe comes from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook which was helpfully provided to me by our local library (as I’m too poor to purchase it for myself right now). This dish is basically creamed corn with pancetta and a bit of sage mixed with pasta. The sage flavor is not particularly pronounced so increase the amount if you, unlike my wife, like sage a lot. The original recipe called for 5 to 6 small ears of corn but, given that I buy corn priced by the ear, I used 3 large ears instead. There may be a flavor difference but as long as I don’t try it, I’ll be happy with the cheaper version (that was, until recently, my theory with sushi; as long as I don’t know what I’m missing, I’m okay).
Pasta with Corn, Pancetta, and Sage
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook
2 1/2 cups fresh corn (about 3 large ears)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3 oz pancetta, cubed
6 sage leaves, diced
1 lb. fresh egg pasta, preferably linguine
salt and pepper
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
- Using a knife, slice the corn kernels off of the ear into a bowl. Then, run the back of the knife at a 45 degree angle to the ear to force out all the starchy liquid. Combine the liquid and the corn.
- Boil waiter for the pasta and cook until slightly underdone. Reserve pasta water.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the pancetta and saute until lightly browned.
- Turn off heat, add sage and 1 tablespoon butter. Allow the sage to seep for 1 minute.
- Add 6 tablespoons of butter and turn heat to medium. When the butter is melted, add the corn and liquid. Cook until warmed through and the liquid in the pan thickens slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add cooked pasta to the corn and toss. Finish cooking the pasta with the corn.
- Off heat, add Parmesan cheese and retaste for seasoning.