WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS In Italy, this robust dish is typically made with a bottle of red wine, but our tasters found the quantity of red wine to be unappealingly tannic. Switching to white wine solved the problem, since grape skins (which contribute color and tannins) are removed early in the white wine–making process. But the spaghetti became less robustly flavored. So, we reduced about a third of a bottle of white wine to make an intensely flavored glaze while the spaghetti parcooked. Then we introduced the partially cooked pasta to the glaze and added the remainder of the wine incrementally until the spaghetti finished cooking. A small amount of cream and some grated Pecorino added a finishing touch of luxury. Use a good-quality unoaked white wine. If the wine reduction is too sharp in step 2, season to taste with up to 1 tablespoon of sugar, adding it in 1- teaspoon increments.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 (750-ml) bottle dry white wine, divided
½ teaspoon table salt, plus salt for cooking pasta Sugar if needed
1 pound spaghetti
5 ounces (5 cups) baby arugula
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (½ cup), divided, plus extra for serving
⅓ cup heavy cream
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped coarse
1 Heat oil and pancetta in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat; cook until pancetta is browned and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel–lined plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from skillet.
2 Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic and pepper flakes to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully add 1½ cups wine and increase heat to mediumhigh. Cook until wine is reduced to ½ cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Season with up to 1 tablespoon sugar to taste.
3 Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until pasta is flexible but not fully cooked, about 4 minutes. Reserve 2 cups cooking water, then drain pasta.
4 Transfer pasta to skillet with reduced wine. Place skillet over medium heat; add ½ cup unreduced wine and cook, tossing constantly, until wine is fully absorbed. Continue to add remaining wine, ½ cup at a time, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. (If wine is absorbed before spaghetti is fully cooked, add ½ cup reserved cooking water at a time to skillet and continue to cook.)
5 Remove skillet from heat. Place arugula on top of pasta; pour ¼ cup reserved cooking water over arugula, cover, and let stand for 1 minute. Add ¼ cup Pecorino and cream; toss until sauce lightly coats pasta and arugula is evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to platter and sprinkle with pine nuts, pancetta, and remaining ¼ cup Pecorino. Serve immediately, passing extra Pecorino separately.