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Gino's Italian Escape

Pasta shells with guaniciale, potatoes and tomatoes

This is the ultimate comfort food and a great winter dish to share with family and friends.

Guanciale is pig’s cheek that has been rubbed with salt, black pepper, sugar and thyme, then cured for three months. It is a delicacy from Central Italy – particularly Umbria and Lazio – and is used in classic Roman pasta sauces such as amatriciana and carbonara. Smoked pancetta or bacon are good substitutes, although they have a milder flavour.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

– 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 1 large red onion, peeled and finely chopped
– 250g guanciale, cut into 1cm cubes
– 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
– 400g floury potatoes (e.g. Maris Piper or King Edward), peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
– 1.8 litres hot vegetable stock
– 1x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
– 300g dried conchigliette (small pasta shells)
– 80g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and guanciale and fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Tip in the carrot and potatoes and fry for 2 minutes.

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 25 minutes (uncovered). Tip in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Add the conchigliette and cook over a low heat for about 8 minutes or until al dente, stirring occasionally. Remove the heat, stir in the Parmesan and serve immediately.

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