Pancetta is an Italian bacon made of pork belly meat that is salt cured and spiced. This pancetta recipe does not require any smoking (or cooking of the meat at all), just some basic ingredients and a lot of patience.
Tools that you will need:
- a container to cure the pork belly in (preferably glass)
- a sharp knife
- something heavy (e.g. a gallon of water)
- Butchers twine
Cure mixture ingredients:
- 1 pound of sea salt
- 8 ounces of sugar
- ~2 ounces of sodium nitrate-pink salt (amount depending on the
instructions of the pink salt you are using)
Pancetta recipe – Italian bacon
First, remove the pork skin from the bottom side of the belly. After this is done, prepare the seasoning. You can spice the pork belly any way you want. For this pancetta recipe the meat was spiced using black peppercorns, coriander, fennel seeds and star anise. Make sure that you blend the ingredients up very well, using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. You want the mix to be a very fine powder.
Now get your curing mix ingredients. Mix the salt, sugar and pink salt very well, and line the bottom of the dish you are using with it. (If you are using a metal tray instead of a glass one, make sure you put a layer of parchment paper between the metal and the curing mix).
After the layer of salt put some of the spices in there as well, and lay the pork belly on top of that. It does not matter if the fat side is up or down, as you will be flipping it over once a day. Press the meat down into the salt. Then put the rest of your spices on top of the meat and press it down. Cover it with more of the cure mixture.
While the meat is curing, you need something to press it down. One method is to put a plate with a jug of water or milk on top of the meat, but you can use anything that is a little heavy.
Move the pancetta into the fridge. It has to cure in there for at least 7 days, while you will be flipping it over once a day. Do not forget to place your weight back onto the meat every time you flip it.
After about a week, bring the meat out of the fridge. A lot of liquid will have come out of the meat. Wash all the spices and curing salt off the meat, and thoroughly dry the outside of it.
At this point you can optionally re-season the meat. If you choose to do this, do not use too much seasoning.
Get your butchers twine, and cut a few pieces of about 1 foot length. Also have some cheesecloth ready.
Roll the meat as tight as you can (skin side out). Put it on top of the cheesecloth, and again wrap it up as tight as you can The smaller your pork belly is the more strength you will need to apply, as the meat stiffens during the curing process.
Twist the two ends of the cheesecloth. Get the pieces of butchers twine and tie them tightly around the meat, and also at the ends of the cheesecloth. At one end leave some of the twine so you can hang it later on.
Now the only thing left to complete this pancetta recipe is to let it age in the fridge. Find a way to securely hang the wrapped meat in the fridge, making sure it is not in front of the little vents. The meat will stay in there for about 3 weeks before it is ready.
After it has aged, your Pancetta Recipe Italian bacon is finally ready! Slice thin pieces to use as pizza toppings, salad garnish, or a great appetizer. Hang the portion you have not used back in the fridge.
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