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Cacio e Pepe Smashed Potatoes with Pancetta Breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 450˚F (230˚C). Use the convection setting if available.
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a few large pinches of salt to the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low right away. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, cooked through, and fall away when pierced with a fork or paring knife, about 10 minutes, depending on the potato size. Make sure not to overcook the potatoes. Drain the potatoes in a colander.
Line a rimmed sheet tray with aluminum foil, if desired. Add a few tablespoons of oil to the sheet tray and spread around, then transfer the potatoes to the tray and toss them around to coat lightly with the oil. Use either another equally sized sheet tray, a flat-bottomed dish such as a bowl or mug, or a cast iron pan to flatten the potatoes to about ½-inch thickness. Some chunks are bound to separate, but the majority of the potatoes should still hold together in one piece. Drizzle a generous amount of oil on top of the potatoes then sprinkle lightly pepper. Roast in the oven until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 40-50 minutes.
While the potatoes cook, make the Pancetta Breadcrumbs: Place the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and let the fat render out of the pancetta, about 20-25 minutes, until pancetta is golden brown and crispy. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat in the fat, adding a touch more oil if the breadcrumbs look dry. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and toasty, about 3-5 minutes.
Immediately transfer the still-hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with about ¾ of the cheese, adding a bit in at a time as you toss or stir, and a generous amount of black pepper. Transfer the potatoes to a serving platter and top with half of the remaining ¼ of cheese and more black pepper. Top with pancetta breadcrumbs, chives, and parsley leaves and serve immediately.