Larry Matthews. Back Bay Grill

A very wise music teacher taught me that the trick to creating magic in any performance is to make the easy things look hard, and the hard things look easy.

This comes to mind as I talk with chef Larry Matthews about his Hand-Rolled Pappardelle with Braised Pork, Pancetta Soffritto, Leeks, and Parmesan, which, if not exactly a signature dish, is an enduring staple at the Back Bay Grill due to its popularity among patrons.

“We have fun with the fact that this pappardelle looks so simple, yet it takes so much work,” says Matthews. “There is a lot of technique involved—we break down and utilize every part of the protein we use for this dish. We make our own pasta. We create our own broth for the braising liquid. If you rush through any of the components, they don’t come together quite as nicely.”

It begins with the slow, meticulous building of Bolognese sauce, which starts with a pancetta, garlic, and leek soffritto that
gets fortified in flavor with braising liquid. Shredded meat that has been slowly braised gets tossed in, and finally, the house-made pappardelle.

In the summer, the pappardelle is usually served with lamb, but in the fall and winter, Matthews prefers pork. It is comfort food at its finest, with the saltiness and aromatics of the pancetta, the tenderness of the pork, and the heartiness of the sauce creating a wonderful symphony of flavors.

It is a bit of a deviation from Matthews’s typical fare, which is marked by refined plating and grand demonstrations of his exceptional technique. This particular dish is muted and humble in presentation. Therein lies the magic.


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