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Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
19 Jul

Pancetta with Halibut and Asparagus

Halibut1If something akin to “meat butter” sounds good to you, then head to your favorite local (or online) butcher shop and ask for pancetta, guanciale or lardo. All three are fatty cuts of pork – with an emphasis on fatty – that are dry cured with salt, herbs and spices.

Guanciale comes from the jowl, lardo comes from the back and pancetta comes from the belly. The long curing time (usually a couple months or so) means these seriously tasty slabs of mostly fat marbled with a little meat can be eaten raw. This is usually done by draping very thin slices of pancetta, guanciale or lardo over cooked meat, fish or vegetables, so it melts like butter. Meaty, salty, extremely rich butter.

Especially if you plan to eat it raw, buy from butchers that sell high quality, humanely raised, pastured pork. Lardo, which is pure fat, is the most butter-like (and hardest to find in stores). Pancetta and guanciale have a little more texture and meaty flavor; kind of like bacon for really hardcore pork lovers. Pancetta is sold in slabs or rolls that are often sliced to order by the butcher and guanciale is sold in slabs that are often cut to order as well.

Both pancetta and guanciale can also be cut into cubes and fried up into crispy, fatty morsels, instead of eating it raw. This recipe is the best of both worlds: raw pancetta as a silky, porky topping for halibut and cooked pancetta mixed with sherry vinegar, shallot and parsley as a dressing for asparagus. The result is a meal worthy of a special occasion but easy enough to make any night of the week.

Servings: 2

Time in the Kitchen: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

ingredients 39
  • 2 6-ounce (170 g) skinless halibut fillets
  • 3 ounces of guanciale or pancetta (ideally cut from a slab, not a round) (85 g)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (20 g)
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (15 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (30 ml)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (30 ml)

Instructions:

Slice 4 very thin slices off the piece of pancetta or guanciale and set aside. Cut the rest up into tiny cubes.

slabpancetta cutpancetta

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the cubes of pancetta/guanciale and cook for 3 minutes then add the shallot. Continue to cook until the pancetta/guanciale is crispy. Pour off most of the fat (keeping the pancetta/guanciale and shallot in the skillet) and set aside.

Step1 22

Add the vinegar and parsley to the skillet. Cook about 1 minute more, until most of vinegar evaporates, then spoon the mixture of pork, shallot and parsley into a bowl and set aside.

Pour the reserved bowl of grease back into the skillet. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Lightly salt the halibut and add it to the pan, cooking until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. If the pan starts smoking, turn the heat down to medium. Flip the fish and cook about 2 to 4 minutes longer, until opaque in the center.

Step2 22

While the fish is cooking, coat the asparagus in olive oil. Lay out in a single layer in a rimmed baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil under high heat, shaking the baking sheet occasionally, and cook until slightly shriveled and charred, 6 to 8 minutes.

Step3 11

Plate each of the halibut fillets with two slices of raw pancetta/guanciale on top and asparagus on the side dressed with the pancetta/guanciale and parsley dressing.

Halibut2

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I was just wondering how to cook the fish and asparagus I got from the shop yesterday, great post in perfect time!

    Alma wrote on July 19th, 2014
  2. I’m surprised to see olive oil in a high-heat treatment here. The pancetta part has me drooling!

    leukothea wrote on July 19th, 2014
  3. This looks yummy. I love halibut. I think Atlantic halibut might still be on the endangered list and therefore unavailable. Maybe Mark can comment on this. Also I would think bacon or a slab of salt pork will be a good substitute if you can’t find pancetta, guaciale or lardo. I don’t think I’d eat any of it raw, but to each his own.

    Shary wrote on July 19th, 2014
  4. I don’t think I’ve ever tried pancetta, it sounds delicious. I’ve started eating a lot more pork belly which is extremely fatty and sooo tasty. Brilliant, fresh recipe, would love to have a go at it!

    Mark wrote on July 19th, 2014
  5. Thanks Mark…now I’m salivating.

    Jacob wrote on July 19th, 2014
  6. Simple, easy, and delightful.

    Firefly 88 wrote on July 19th, 2014
  7. I think there’s something terribly wrong with Mark. It’s already early evening today (or afternoon, but still) and he hasn’t posted the Weekend Link Love.

    Helena wrote on July 20th, 2014
    • I was just starting to worry, myself! I hope it’s just a little technical glitch– noticed the site was down briefly yesterday.

      Paleo-curious wrote on July 20th, 2014
  8. Oh my goodness, I read pancetta as placenta! And while I have some friends who would be totally into that…not sure I want to see that particular recipe here! THIS recipe looks really good and I will need to try it sometime soon…maybe with our tilapia we are raising…and a vegetable in season from our garden.

    CrazyCatLady wrote on July 20th, 2014
  9. Salty meats generally make any meal amazing! Good idea to combine these two.

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on July 21st, 2014
  10. Great post, but I’m having a hard time locating the pancetta/guanciale, it’s not in the deli section of my store, and my local butcher doesn’t carry it. I love all fish dishes and am keen to incorporate this into my diet, but wondering if I can simply make it without the pancetta? Does it lose much flavor that way? Can I substitute anything else? Bacon is an obvious no go, so any other tips I can use?

    Brett Vaughan wrote on July 21st, 2014
    • Im not sure where you live but in Chicago where im from they are available in Italian stores like Caputos or European deli stores. Igourmet.com or even amazon.com sells it as well if you dont live near any italian deli stores.

      alex wrote on August 2nd, 2014
  11. I don’t suppose I’ve ever tried pancetta, it sounds delicious. I’ve started uptake plenty additional side of pork that is extraordinarily fatty and sooo tasty

    John Peter wrote on July 23rd, 2014
  12. Great recipe! I like pancetta but I’ve never prepared it myself before. Halibut is also great. Thanks for the recipe, I will definitely try it! It looks delicious

    Harald wrote on July 23rd, 2014

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