Pancetta and caramelized leeks on toasted baguette
Oh, hello there! I hope you’re hungry, because this is one fresh, crunchy treat. Our fancy downtown restaurant Café Navarre introduced this starter to my picky sister-in-law and she loved it! That night, I ordered baked artichoke and was secretly hoping she would offer me a taste of her crustini. Normally, I don’t like having to go to the same place just so I can have their yummy dish not offered at other restaurants. I do everything in my power to recreate it.
Check in later for my version of Bonefish bang-bang shrimp.
2 Bunches of Leeks
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 pound Pancetta
Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and Pepper
Cream Cheese (optional)
First, wash the leeks to remove dirt and sand.
Slice them thinly into rounds and set aside.
Dice the pancetta and throw it into a hot pan. Cook until it gets really nice and crispy. Pancetta is often called Italian bacon. That’s a true enough description, but unlike American bacon, which is most often smoked, pancetta is unsmoked pork belly that is cured in salt and spices such as nutmeg, pepper and fennel. It’s then dried for a few months.
Remove the pancetta from the pan and add the leeks, a dash of salt and pepper (you really don’t need much salt, as the pancetta has plenty). Add the red pepper flakes for some heat, and brown sugar to help caramelize and give it a bit of sweetness. Cook until leeks are light brown, about 20-25 minutes.
In the meantime, slice a good loaf of Italian Bread into 1/2 inch thick pieces and toast to make crustini.
When the leeks are done, add the pancetta back into the pan and mix.
Spread cream cheese on bread if desired. Spoon the leek and pancetta mixture onto each round of bread and serve. Yum.
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