Anthony Bourdain’s Wedge with Stilton and Pancetta
One of the first things I thought about when I heard of Anthony Bourdain’s recent death was his episode of “Part’s Unknown” where he visited Congo. My daughter was adopted from the Congo 7 years ago as a toddler.
Although Congo has many redeeming qualities from it’s beautiful, friendly people to it’s rich culture and natural resources, it’s not generally displayed in a good light. Oftentimes when you hear about Congo it’s due to violence, poverty and corruption. In “Part’s Unknown”, season 1 finale, Anthony stated going there had been a lifelong dream of his. We watch this episode every 6 months or so, because to be honest, there is very little in tv or movies filmed there.
Like all episodes of “Part’s Unknown”, I felt he did a wonderful job of showing the history and culture of the country he was showcasing. He doesn’t skirt Congo’s past with Belgian colonialism and really paints a picture of where they’ve been and the resilience of the Congolese. There’s no sugarcoating the history, or even problems faced today, but I can’t help but appreciate this small view of wild Congo. Not for me exactly, but for my daughter. She will forever know you Anthony, as the one who gave her this candid video introduction into a country she only remembers from stories she’s told. Someday, we’ll go back.
News of his death inspired me to pull out one of my favorite Bourdain cookbooks, “Appetites,” which I’ve reviewed in full, along with the recipe for Macau-Style Pork Chop Sandwiches. It’s beginning to get hot here in the Pacific Northwest, so using the oven is out of the question, and eating light, flavorful meals is the preference of the season to help wear off all the bulking up many of us did during the long winter months.
This wedge salad is simple to make, delicate, and loaded with flavor. The pancetta is a wonderful alternative to bacon and the fried shallots are seriously delicious. If you choose to make this recipe, don’t skip them. The dressing is strong, but a perfect compliment to the simple iceberg lettuce. This entire recipe took me only a few minutes to prepare, with the longest aspect of the preparation being frying the shallots (around 15 minutes), which makes this a perfect weeknight meal. I hope you add it to your menu this week!
Also, make sure to check out the cookbook, “Appetites“, it’s worth the purchase!
This is a simple salad, loaded with flavor and perfect for a summer weeknight meal.
6 oz pancetta, cut into cubes or sliced if thin
8 oz Stilton or other high quality blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup mayo
2 T canola oil + 1 cup (for frying shallots)
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Head of iceberg lettuce, washed, cored, and cut into 4-6 equal wedges
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup fried shallots – Around 4 uncooked
To fry shallots- Thinly slice shallots and cook, stirring occasionally in canola oil over medium high heat until brown, around 12-15 minutes. Remove and let drain on a paper towel.
For the salad- Cook pancetta over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is browned, around 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to a lined plate to drain.
In medium mixing bowl, combine half the Stilton, the mayo, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice and whisk together to make a homogeneous mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (Note: Mine tasted salty already and no additional salt was necessary.)
Place a few tablespoons of the dressing in the center of each plate and top with iceberg wedge. Drizzle each wedge with another tablespoon or two of dressing. Top each serving with pancetta, remaining blue cheese, parsley and fried shallots.