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Homemade Pancetta

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I have been wanting to try my hand in Charcuterie forEVER, but in Bermuda I was always worried about humidity levels. You can't really hang dry a piece of meat when there is 77% humidity year round! A basement in the winter in New England is another story. There are perfect conditions right now; about 55 degrees and very dry. For those who do not know, pancetta is similar to bacon. They are both made from pork belly, but bacon is cured and smoked, pancetta only cured. It came out amazing, one of the favorite things I have ever made. I was a bit worried while it was hanging because it formed a hard crust on the outside that was not mentioned in any of the recipes I saw. Cutting away the crust was like unveiling a lost artifact from another time. People go nutty for bacon these days, with whole blogs devoted to bacon in anything from breakfast to dessert, but most people use the thin sliced, brine cured supermarket crap bacon. You have not tried bacon until you have tried it like this.


This picture was taken what seems like AGES ago. I like recipes that take a silly amount of time. These things take dedication and are worth every minute!



The basic dry cure mix from ruhlman's website.





Removing the skin from the belly.



And spreading on the cure. This went into the fridge in a zip lock bag. It sat for a week. I visited often to flip it over, rub in the salt, and read it bedtime stories.



After a week, it was more a liquid than a dry rub.



Rinse off the cure. Rinse it really well.





Tie it up tight! The chow website has a nice tying tutorial.



The tying was my favorite part. Ruhlman skips this step! I had a lot of fun with it and took a ton of pictures. Also, the rolling and tying made for less surface area and less of the "crust" I mentioned earlier.









This hung for about 10 days. Again, I visited often, this time to check on the smells, temps, and to play classical music for it.



Note the crustyness I spoke of.



I thought it was just salt leeching out of the meat, but it was really tough and off color too, so I decided to cut it off.



Unwrapping the greatest present.



Pure beauty.



The fat melting in my hand was a highlight for me, so I wanted to share it with you guys.





I needed to test some right away so I knew what I was working with in recipes later.



Meanwhile I cut a bunch into lardons, and left some in one big chunk.



The test strip was SUPER salty! Notice the salt sitting on it? It came out of the meat while it was in the oven! Crazy. But when I brushed off the salt, oh was it delicious. It tasted crazy savory like super bacon, but at the same time, didn't scream bacon the way grocery store bacon does. I feel like that isn't a good description, but that is the best I got for you. The texture was the more amazing thing. It was almost shreddy like a slow cooked pork, but not melty-shreddy.



To combat the salt, I soaked the cubes in water for an hour and a half, changing the water 3 times. Later in dinner, they tasted perfect.



Amazing carbonara with the homemade pancetta. The one everyone hates with cream in it!


I used a lot of help from the two websites I already mentioned. Chow, and Ruhlman. Other than that, I just took my time and thought about what I was doing. The way slow food like this should be. Speaking of slow food, shout out to Austin Brothers Farm in Belchertown, MA where I procured this delicious fresh pork belly.


15 Comments

Awesome! You continue to amaze me with your continued kitchen (er, basement) adventures!

Wicked! I admire your patience, I've gotta work on that for sure. The pics are great- especially the one that shows you rolling it-way cool. And as far the carbonara goes, that looks outstanding- Have a great weekend!

So are we now referring to that room as the laundry-curing room? I have feeling Mom hasn't done much ironing recently.

BTW (FTW for Jo) It looks awesome, I wish I was home.

"flip it over, rub in the salt, and read it bedtime stories."

i lolled.

I have to say I was a bit nervous eating this. Its not often that you eat meat thats been hanging around(literally) in the basement for a week and a half. The texture and the taste were (are we have leftovers) wonderful. Thanks Dan for the delicious experiment. Sorry you missed it Allie.

“Pure Beauty” shot makes me want to cry. Man, this looks really good and glad that it paid off for you.

i can't agree more with 'wouldibuyitagain'...this is a beautifully spiritually post for me (okay a bit dramatic) but i was literally salivating when reading it. i'm gonna try it!

looks awesome!!! so, where did you get the belly? Do most of the stores have them? Any particular ones with better quality?

Homemade pancetta........you are truly my hero! It looks awesome.

ahhh indeed. i think i misread it... does this mean you arent in bermuda anymore?

sadly i have no clue which farms would have it here, although i can try the bulls head farmers market

Oh Dan this is highly impressive! My dad used to make this in his butcher shop and he used to let the fat get to room temp and eat it with fresh bread....very delicious but not so good for you, but who cares :P

Oh man do you know how to tell a love story, keep up the good work.

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