I have started another recipe from the Salt chapter of Charcuterie and couldn’t be more excited for this one.  Pancetta!  Pancetta is Italian style bacon that benefits from an approximate 7-9 day curing process, much like regular bacon, and then another 2 weeks of hanging in a dry curing chamber.  The final parts for my curing chamber came in today and as such I started the curing process knowing that I have a week to get the chamber up and running.   The book indicates that you could skip the drying process if you didn’t happen to have a curing chamber however; it also clearly states that drying enhances the texture and intensifies the flavor of the pancetta.

I went to our local Asian market and purchased 2 five pound pork bellies which were very similar to the ones I used in the bacon recipe.  I then assembled the other ingredients (for one 5lb pork belly slab):

  • 4 clove garlic, minced
  • 12 grams pink salt
  • 50 grams kosher salt
  • 26 grams dark brown sugar
  • 40 grams coarsely ground black pepper (20 grams reserved for post-curing step)
  • 10 grams juniper berries coarsely ground
  • 4 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 4 grams freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme

Pork belly and dry cure ingredients for Pancetta.

I first mixed all of the dry ingredients and then ground my juniper berries with the bay leaves and fresh thyme and put the garlic cloves through a press.

Dry cure mixed in with freshly pressed garlic cloves.

I then removed the skin from each of the pork bellies.  To be true to my original commitment to using all of the glorious pig I will turn the skin into chicharrones or pork rinds which is another very interesting process…post coming soon.

Belly trimmed of skin...don't toss the skin!

After I removed the skin from each I thoroughly rubbed the salt cure into all sides of the pork belly and slipped it into a gallon sized Ziploc baggie.

Dry cure coated pork belly ready for baggie and 7-9 day rest.

Each belly will remain in the baggy for approximately 7-9 days.  The variance is based upon how thick the belly is and how long it takes for the cure to work its magic.  Each day I remove the baggy of pork belly and “overhaul” or distribute the cure to ensure an even curing process.  You can tell when it is fully cured based upon how firm the belly feels.  If it still feels squishy it needs a few more days…don’t rush this process.

I anticipate the curing process to be done by next Monday or Tuesday of next week.  Then I will post the next step which is a good rinse and reapplication of the remaining 20 grams of black pepper. After that you roll the belly up into the traditional pancetta format that you will be sure to recognize.  Then into the curing chamber for a two to three week hang and dry session.  I have also started the Jerky recipe in the Salt chapter and should be able to post the first part of this process tomorrow.  Until then…

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