"Every once in a while, my mom would make a trip to the Italian bakery in Trenton, New Jersey, where she would pick up (among many things) a delicious ring loaf of bread studded with crispy bits of pancetta and savory with tangy cheese. That’s what I had in mind when I created this recipe." - Domenica Marchetti, author of Ciao Biscotti
What to drink: Pecorino (the wine, not the cheese) or your favorite dry white wine.
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 Ounces pancetta, cut into small dice
- 2 Cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 Teaspoon baking powder
- 1 Teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 Cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- 1/2 Cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/2 Cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, at cool room temperature
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 dry white wine, half-and-half, or milk
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with the oil.
Put the pancetta in a cold cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet and set it over medium heat. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the pancetta begins to sizzle. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring a few times, for about 10 minutes, or until the pancetta has rendered some of its fat and is crisp. Turn the heat to low if necessary to keep the pancetta from burning. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta pieces to a paper towel–lined plate to cool. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat.
Combine the flour, baking powder, pepper, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, almonds, and cooled pancetta and mix on low to combine. Add the reserved pancetta fat and the butter in pieces and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture looks like damp sand. Add the eggs and wine and mix on medium speed until a soft, slightly sticky dough has formed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a disk. Divide it into quarters. Lightly moisten your hands with water and gently roll one portion of dough into a rough oval. Place it crosswise on the baking sheet and use your hands and fingers to stretch and pat the dough into a log about 1 ½ inches wide and 9 inches long. Shape the remaining pieces of dough in the same way, moistening your hands as necessary, leaving at least 2 inches between the logs. Press down on the logs to flatten them out a bit and make the tops even.
Bake the logs for 25 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and just set—they should be springy to the touch and there should be cracks on the surface. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack. Gently slide an offset spatula under each log to loosen it from the baking sheet. Let the logs cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to the rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and, using a Santoku knife or a serrated bread knife, cut them on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices, cut-side up, on the baking sheet (in batches if necessary) and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until they are crisp and golden. Transfer the slices to the rack to cool completely. The biscotti will keep for up to 10 days in an airtight container stored at room temperature.