How To Make Pancetta
To get started, in case you’re not familiar, pancetta is an Italian salt cured meat that’s pretty much Italy’s version of bacon. Have you hooked? Good, let’s continue. You can either get your pancetta cut into thick cubes for easy sautéing or sliced as thin as paper to put on pizza, salads or wrap things in. One of the best things about pancetta is the way it accentuates the flavor of vegetables like spring peas, green beans, asparagus and more. Throw it in with your favorite pasta dish, wrap it around asparagus or sauté it with brussel sprouts for an extra indulgent dinner.
Follow along with our online culinary school chef in this video tutorial on how to make homemade pancetta. You can get all sorts of creative with this Italian cured pork.
2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns for curing
2 tbsp whole juniper berries
1/3 coarse sea salt
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp curing salt
2 whole allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 piece of fresh skin on pork belly (5 lb)
1. Warm a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add the peppercorns, allspice, and cloves to the skillet and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are fragrant. Remove from the heat.
2. Using a spice mill or a mortar and pestle, grind the toasted spices with the juniper berries into a fine powder. Add the rest of the ingredients creating a cure. Set aside.
3. Place the pork belly meat side up, using a sharp boning knife; make the piece more level by trimming any extra pieces of muscle or fat. Square the edges with a chef’s knife.
4. Rinse the pork belly and pat dry. Place it on cutting board, skin side up. To remove the skin, use a sharp boning knife. Starting at the corner, slice in horizontal just under the skin but above the fat layer. Pull the skin toward your body, holding it as you loosen it from the fat with a series of small horizontal cuts. Be careful not to remove too much fat, and then use your knife to even out the fat layer a little.
5. Place the pork belly on a baking sheet and rub the cure all over its surfaces, making sure to coat both the fat and the lean sides, and all the edges and corners. Place pork belly into a zip top bag, seal the gab and place in a baking dish and weigh it down with a few cans. Refrigerate the dish at least overnight, and up to 2 weeks depending on when the meat is sufficiently cured, flipping it over every day.
6. Remove the pork belly from the refrigerator and rinse off the curing mixture under cool running water.
7. Place pork belly in a clean cutting board with meat side up, press the remaining peppercorns into the meat. Tie one end of the pancetta with butcher’s twine and secure a loop in order to hang it, but you can also roll it up like traditional pancetta if you want to be fancier.
8. Hang the pancetta for 3 to 4 weeks in a temperature between 54° F to 60°F, or until it has lost 35% of its green weight.
9. Use the pancetta as you would bacon.