Papadrelle with a Smoked Pancetta and Creamy Tomato Sauce

Written by Karen Coakley

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When my Twins were tiny babies this was my ‘go to’ dinner. I used to try many different versions of it so much so that my gang got tired of it and we hadn’t had it in a few years until this week when my oldest son (now 25) requested it when I asked him what he’d like as his ultimate ‘Mammy Dinner’ and I have to say I fell in love with it all over again

It was my saviour in those hectic days when I was completely overwhelmed with having to take care of two babies, the lack of sleep, the constant feeding, changing nappies, the two sterilisers on the go to cope with the 12 bottles we had to make every day and the feeling of my normal wonderful life being turned upside down.

I think it was during this extremely stressful time that I began to totally immerse myself in cooking. It was my comfort in a time when I felt I wasn’t coping, it helped me relax when I was fighting off the tears and the stress but most of all it kept me sane and gave me a focus outside of just surviving day to day with two babies.

It also helped me feel I was doing something for my two older children who I felt so terribly guilty about in that hectic, chaotic time where I struggled with being a mother to twins, at least I could make them happy with tasty home cooked food and hopefully send them off into the world full of happy food memories.

Fast forward 11 years and my Twins are now the absolute joy in our lives. Their older brothers are grown up and have left home. What was a stressful time is now a distant memory and with vision of hindsight we’re enjoying the younger two all the more now. We know the time with them is precious and all too soon in the blink of an eye they’ll be in different parts of the world like their big brothers.

I’m still immersed in cooking and now find myself following a path that I could never have dreamed of in those dark, tear filled days. I’m still standing at my cooker, I’m older, wiser and I’m so aware of how time goes by and how quickly things can change. I’m still immersed in cooking, I’m still making Food Memories for my boys but now I’m also making them for you 💕

You will see I have no oil listed here, that’s because the fat that renders out of the pancetta is enough and you don’t need oil, make sure your pan is hot before adding the pancetta. If you’re leaving it out or using smoked streaky bacon instead I would add a small drop of oil. Also you can use 1 can of chopped tomatoes instead of fresh ones but you may need to add sugar as they can be acidic. My tomatoes for this were in season and sweet so I didn’t need to add sugar but taste as you go and that’s the best way to know.



  1. Place a medium frying pan on the heat, once hot add the pancetta and cook until nicely browned, the fat should render out of the meat so there’s no need to add oil to the pan.
  2. Once the pancetta is browned add the chorizo and allow it to seal. Then add your cherry tomatoes and allow them to cook on a medium to low heat for 10-15 until until they’ve reduced down to a nice thick jammy sauce.
  3. Grate in the garlic and add the chilli powder and the hot smoked paprika, stir through and then pour in the cream.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. If the tomatoes are a little bitter add a pinch of sugar to sweeten.
  5. Stir in the basil and olives at the very end, you don’t want the olives to cook as this can make them bitter.
  6. Turn off the heat and toss the cooked papadrelle through the sauce.
  7. Top with lots of freshly grated parmesan.
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