One of our favorite restaurants here in Umbria is Enoteca L’Alchimista in Montefalco. It is a small family run restaurant that is packed year round, and during the summer you can dine outdoors under umbrellas in the main piazza of Montefalco which is lovely. What I like most about this restaurant is that the menu changes often, and is completely unique compared to many other local restaurants that serve the same typical Umbrian dishes year round. At l’Alchimista, they use traditional Umbrian products, but in very interesting and different ways, and keep the menu very seasonal but always true to Umbria. One of our favorite appetizers we order when we dine here is called Barbazza con Sagrantino & Salvia , which basically uses strips of bacon-like meat that they fry in Sagrantino wine with sage. Sagrantino wine is Umbria’s most famous wine and is a very dry, tanic red wine. This is a very delicious and unique dish that I have not seen served anywhere else. The wine adds a subtle flavor and sage is always a great combination with pork. I always love “recipes” like this one that are very regional, require just a few good quality ingredients, and taste delicious!
I decided to attempt this dish at home recently while my family was visiting, knowing that they would love it as they all love bacon. Researching this dish further, I read that barbazza usually refers to guanciale, a cured pork product made with pig’s jowls. Though I do love guanciale and use it often in my cooking, I decided I would prefer pancetta in this dish as it has a milder, more “bacon-like” flavor. I bought a slab of pancetta, and cut it myself into strips. I cut my strips fairly thin this time, and I think when I make this dish in the future I will cut my pancetta into thicker strips. Since Sagrantino wine is quite difficult to find outside of Italy, I’d recommend using any full bodied, dry red wine which will work in this dish. I’d suggest planning on 4 to 5 strips per person as it is delicious. Feel free to try this dish with strips of guanciale if available as I am sure it would be tasty as well. Serve this dish with some crusty unsalted bread and enjoy!
Deborah Mele 2013
Barbazza con Sagrantino & Salvia
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 20 Strips Pancetta (See Notes Above)
- 3/4 Cup Dry Red Wine
- 10 Large Fresh Sage Leaves
- In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil until lightly smoking, then cook the pancetta over medium heat along with the sage until the pancetta is no longer pink, but not yet crisp, about 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and continue to cook, stirring often until the wine has been completely absorbed.
- Serve immediately.