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February 3, 2012

Mad about pancetta

I'm currently mad about pancetta. I'm not mad AT pancetta - I'm just crazy for it.


Isn't it lovely?

Remember when I did all that bacon making? Part of what I cured was their weird curly, round belly piece (as the pigz were so fat!). Usually you take a thin piece of pork belly and roll it up. But I just used the round piece. It was cured in a savory mix of salt and herbs for about 10 days or more. Then I wrapped it in cheese cloth and hung it in the basement. For about a week I eyed it suspiciously... then I took it down and carefully unwrapped it. I was expecting it to be maggot ridden and moldy. It wasn't. It was glorious.

So I immediately sent an email, shrieking my glee, to my pal The Gastronomic Gardener letting him know it worked. He loves bacon like I do - especially making it at home.

Its just beautiful.

Pancetta is usually not smoked but is dry cured. That's right not refrigerated, just hung up to dry. Isn't that weird? But it works. And as Ruhlman says, its not meant to be eaten raw but rather cooked, so provided its done correctly - its a safe process. Everyone ran right out and get his book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing right?

Pancetta can be used as a base seasoning for traditional, Italian meat sauces but I admit to just loving it fried up in a pan. For several morning this week I sliced it thick, fried it up in a pan, and had a "PLT" instead of a BLT for breakfast. And I think it will be stunning on the grill or even seared. I love it so much that I have another piece hanging in the basement. And I also have a couple belly pieces in the freezer that are destined for panetta glory.

The next time you are in the deli section look around for the pancetta. See how expensive it is? Sheesh - you can make that at home friends, yes you can.

Happy Friday everyone! Did you see the smoke from my epic burn pile yesterday? Whoot!