Cerretini di Farro ‘al Rancetto’

Farro is a grain found throughout central Italy – especially Umbria and Le Marche. It’s particularly suited to the higher altitude conditions in the Appenines and is officially Good For You: rich in fibre, the mineral magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C and E. It’s low in gluten, which means from the pasta point of view, you’ve got to use eggs.

Doriana Frascarelli has used it to create her Agriturismo‘s signature pasta, cerretini – a farro tagliolini. She dishes it up with her home grown, home cured pancetta. Traditionally, one continued to eat pancetta even when the fat had turned rancid – hence the name ‘al rancetto’. We of course don’t need to do that, but do look for good quality pancetta – Doriana rears a couple of free-range black pigs every year.

For the pasta, you will need:

400g farro flour
100g soft wheat O flour (i.e. not as finely ground as OO)
5 large, free-range eggs

Follow the video: mix the eggs into the flours and knead the dough until it starts feeling silky. Leave it to rest for a good 10 minutes, before rolling it out as thinly as possible.

Leave it to dry out a little. I cannot help with how long: it depends on the thickness, the size of your eggs, your flour, and the humidity.

Flour the sfoglia and double roll it. Then take a very sharp knife and try slicing it thinly. I’ve known Pasta Grannies decide mid session the day isn’t right for angel-hair thin pasta because it’s too rainy, and make tagliatelle instead. So don’t be frightened: do the same and increase the width of the ribbons. Shake them out and spread them on your pasta board.

This pasta will cook in 30 seconds and will serve about 8 people. Freeze what you are not going to use, spreading it out on a cardboard tray in the freezer and then bagging it once it is frozen.

The pancetta sugo:

5 thick rashers of pancetta, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 dried red chilli pepper (use as sparingly or generously as you like)
1 glass of white wine
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a good handful of grated pecorino romano

Fry the pancetta – in a tiny amount of olive oil if necessary.  Once cooked but not crisped, scoop out the pieces leaving the fat behind. Fry the onion and peperoncino until it’s soft. Return the pancetta and deglaze with some white wine. Stir in the tomatoes and leave everything to simmer for 5 minutes.

Use half the pasta for this quantity of sauce. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling, salted water. Drain and toss it with the sauce – Doriana does this in the pan which takes strength and practise – and serve it immediately with a generous amount of pecorino romano cheese.