Recipe for Entertaining: Elegant Pancetta Cups

Like most of the rest of the blogosphere, we fell in love with blogger notmartha's genius bacon cups. Who doesn't love the marriage of crafts and bacon? But after reading her description of the arduous process of weaving the bacon, we worried if the idea was practical enough for entertaining. Fortunately, we found an easy solution.

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The answer? Pancetta!

Since pancetta is already a round shape, making these little cups couldn't be simpler. Following notmartha's directions, we set the oven to 400, draped the pancetta on overturned muffin tins, and baked for 10 to 12 minutes.

There will be some smoke, so turn on your vent hood as soon as they go in the oven. Notmartha used aluminum foil to cover the pans before adding the bacon, but we found that only made removing them from the pan more difficult, and caused our bacon cups to be shallower than necessary. (Hooray for one less step!)

Let them cool for about 10 minutes, then add your desired filling. In the picture above, we used scrambled eggs; below is mashed potatoes. Whether you use pancetta or bacon, there are bound to be some gaps, so use a filling that's not too runny.

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The versions above were made by draping three pieces of pancetta on the bottom side of our popover pan. The resulting cup is the perfect size for an appetizer or a side dish at an elegant meal. We also used a mini muffin pan to make little bite-sized hors d'oeuvres.

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To ensure they keep their shape and stay crispy, don't reheat them after cooling. Just fill them with something hot immediately before serving. (Or, make a cold dish. Notmartha made BLT salad cups out of hers.)

This gorgeous thinly sliced pancetta came from DiPaolo's Fine Foods in Manhattan, and the delicate swirls of fat and meat make for an especially pretty finished product.

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More Spring Goodies at The Kitchn
Quick Tip: Freezing Bacon
Kitchen Tour: At Home in Paris with David Lebovitz
Recipe: Homemade Thin Crust Pizza
Video: Manual Food Processor from Chef'n

(Photos:Nina Callaway for The Kitchn.)