Friday, October 03, 2008

Adventures in Charcuterie: Basement Pancetta

Two months late, but this is a follow-up to my Maple Cured Bacon episode showing what I did with the rest of that pork belly. I made pancetta with the last piece of pork.

Again I take my recipe from Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. The recipe includes dark brown sugar, cloves, juniper berries, bay leaves, nutmeg thyme, black pepper, kosher salt, and curing (pink) salt. That mixture is shown in the bowl above and is rubbed over the surface of the belly. Placed in a zipper bag, the pancetta cures for one week in the refrigerator. Clicky-click any of the pictures for a larger view.

After removal from the bag, the curing spices are rinsed from the pork, the pork is then patted dry and heavily coated with coarse ground black pepper.

Although pancetta is normally rolled and tied, the recipe says it can be left flat as an option. I found that the meat was too stiff to roll so I left it flat. The pancetta is then wrapped in cheesecloth and hung in a cool, humid place for two weeks. For me, that was the corner of my basement over the sump.

After the two week aging period, I cut that flat piece into four smaller pieces, each about 4 x 4 inches. I sealed three and froze them and immediately used the other one for cooking.

This final picture shows the finished pancetta. I was away for 4 nights and my family ate all of my first square except for that small wedge in the front. The rest is safely in freezer bags.

The pancetta is excellent and simple to make. It is every bit as good as commercial products that I have used.

The Headless family cooked up several slices and added the cooked pancetta to a chicken pasta dish. The pancetta added a deep meaty flavor to the pasta.

Ummmmm, bacon.

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