How to Make Your Own Pancetta


| 10/19/2016 10:08:00 AM


Tags: pancetta, charcuterie, pork belly, recipes, food preservation, drying curing, Texas, Ed Hudson,

Pancetta Finished 20161016 550 pxl

Pork Belly is Back

Among the mainstream, pork belly has risen from an obscure reference in a movie to the top dog in many kitchens - both commercial and home. Its availability and ease in preparation with excellent results make it a great “starter” meat for those wanting to learn about curing meat at home.

I took this recipe from Dry-Curing Pork by Hector Kent [1]. It is an excellent book that starts with several short chapters explaining the process, then moves to recipes with increasing levels of difficulty and a “lesson” to be learned with each new one.

My two takeaways from this experience: start using metric units for charcuterie, because it makes the math and measurement easier; and second, my spare refrigerator may not be the right equipment to use for dry curing. I’ll explain later.

I chose to try pancetta because I have become interested in spaghetti carbonara - a dish that I have never eaten but was fascinated by the concept of a sauce made from egg, cheese and cured meat. The recipes call for a cured meat such as guanciale, pancetta or bacon. Because pork belly is far easier to find than pork jowls used for guanciale, I took the path of least resistance, used the belly and made pancetta. Since this was a test run, I used a small piece of pork belly that did not allow me to roll the meat for drying in the traditional Italian style.

The Metric System Will Not Hurt You!

When dry curing, the percentages or ratios become very important, especially when it comes to adding the salt. Too much and it is too salty and dry, too little and it will not cure properly and may be dangerous. These additions are based on a percentage of the starting weight of the meat — therefore, it is important to use measurements of weight such as grams, ounces and pounds. Do not use units of volume such as cups, tablespoons and teaspoons.




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