Mark Baird’s Penne Norcina

Mark Baird is well known in Tom Eats! as the Retired Captain of Industry. His post of Head of Alcohol in Society of Diageo together with his natural Italian charm (not everyone knows of his proud ancestry) made him hugely influential and respected in the drinks industry. Both he and his lovely wife Liz are committed cooks. I reproduce Mark's recipe exactly as he sent it to me, though many may look a little askance at any link between carbonara and a recipe which calls for 200ml of cream. You can be the judges.

Penne Norcina (with a nod to Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe)

Ingredients (serves 2)

4 Italian pork sausages (skins removed); 70 grams guanciale (or pancetta as substitute); 150ml dry white wine; 200ml of double cream; 1 garlic clove; 35 grams of pecorino and 15 grams of parmesan (finely grated); freshly ground black pepper; 200 grams of penne pasta; parsley for garnish (optional).


Finely dice the guanciale (you could use pancetta but guanciale has more flavour) and fry until almost crisp. No need for oil in the pan as plenty of fat will come out of the guanciale. Remove the diced guanciale from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Using the remaining fat from the guanciale, crumble the sausage into the pan along with the crushed garlic and white wine and fry for around 7 minutes until the sausage is cooked and the wine has evaporated. Add the cooked guanciale back into the pan of sausage and stir for a minute or so before adding the cream and cheese. (The cheese mix – 70% pecorino and 30% parmesan - comes from a Stanley Tucci ‘Searching for Italy’ episode where he eventually persuades the chef of Michelin starred restaurant Bistrot64 in Rome to divulge his secret recipe for Cacio e Pepe). Add plenty of fresh black pepper and mix well for a few minutes. Then add the cooked penne to the pan and mix thoroughly; adding a little of the pasta water if you want the sauce a bit thinner. For garnish, grate some pecorino or parmesan over the plated dish with some chopped parsley if you wish.


Thanks, Mark. Time to get the next Tom Eats! meal in the diary.

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