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Homemade Pancetta

Homemade Pancetta

Homemade Pancetta

Pancetta is a traditional Italian cured meat made from pork belly. It's similar to bacon but typically cured with a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices, and it's not smoked. Making your own pancetta at home is a rewarding process that allows you to customize the flavors to your liking. Here's how to make your own pancetta.  Best of all; you can make delicious Carbonara on your Arteflame with it when it's done!

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork belly, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pink curing salt (Prague Powder #1)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried juniper berries, crushed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Pork Belly

  1. Rinse the pork belly under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. Trim any excess fat, leaving a uniform thickness of fat across the meat.

Step 2: Make the Cure

  1. In a small bowl, combine the kosher salt, sugar, pink curing salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary, juniper berries, garlic, bay leaf, and nutmeg.
  2. Mix the ingredients well to create an even cure.

Step 3: Cure the Pork Belly

  1. Rub the cure mixture all over the pork belly, ensuring it is evenly coated on all sides.
  2. Place the pork belly in a large resealable plastic bag or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
  3. Put the wrapped pork belly in a shallow dish to catch any drips and refrigerate it for 7-10 days. Flip the pork belly and massage it every day to redistribute the cure and ensure even curing.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

  1. After the curing period, remove the pork belly from the bag and rinse it thoroughly under cold water to remove the cure.
  2. Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels.
  3. Roll the pork belly tightly into a log shape and tie it with butcher's twine at 1-inch intervals.

Step 5: Hang and Dry

  1. Hang the rolled and tied pork belly in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. The ideal temperature is between 50-60°F (10-15°C) with a humidity level of about 60-70%.
  2. Let the pancetta dry for 2-3 weeks, until it feels firm but not hard.

Step 6: Slice and Enjoy

  1. Once the pancetta is fully dried, it is ready to be used.
  2. Slice the pancetta thinly and use it in your favorite recipes, such as carbonara, soups, stews, or simply enjoy it on its own.

Tips

  • Curing Salt: Pink curing salt (Prague Powder #1) is essential for safe curing and preserving the meat. It also helps maintain the pancetta's color.
  • Temperature and Humidity: Proper temperature and humidity levels are crucial for safe and effective drying. If you don't have a suitable place to hang the pancetta, a curing chamber or dedicated refrigerator can be used.
  • Spices: Feel free to customize the spice mix to your taste. Adding different herbs and spices can give your pancetta a unique flavor profile.

Conclusion

Making pancetta at home is a satisfying project that yields delicious results. With a bit of patience and attention to detail, you can enjoy homemade pancetta in a variety of dishes, adding rich, savory flavors to your meals.

Variations

  1. Spicy Pancetta: Increase the amount of crushed red pepper flakes or add cayenne pepper to the cure for a spicier pancetta.
  2. Herbaceous Pancetta: Add fresh herbs like sage, oregano, or basil to the cure for a more herbaceous flavor.
  3. Smoked Pancetta: After curing, cold smoke the pancetta for a few hours to add a smoky depth of flavor.
  4. Citrus Pancetta: Add finely grated lemon or orange zest to the cure for a citrusy twist.
  5. Honey-Cured Pancetta: Add a tablespoon of honey to the cure mixture for a touch of sweetness.

Pairings

  • Serve thinly sliced pancetta with fresh bread and cheese for a simple appetizer.
  • Use pancetta in pasta dishes like carbonara or amatriciana.
  • Wrap pancetta around vegetables or seafood for grilling.
  • Add diced pancetta to soups and stews for added depth of flavor.

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