Meat Project #1: Pancetta

Recipe from here.

  • 4/2/11: Two pieces, total of 15lb pork belly @ $2.59/lb trimmed to 12lb (trimmed spare ribs — yummy dinner, trimmed skin — tossed)
  • Rubbed with salt, brown sugar, garlic, black pepper, crushed juniper berry, bay leaf, cure #1
  • Wet cure in fridge until 4/11/11
  • Overhauled every other day. (actually every day — we couldn’t keep our hands off it)
  • Rinsed, rolled, tied tight, and into the meat locker on  4/12/11.
  • Hung to dry at 55F & 62%RH.
  • Starting weights:
    • #1 (Mr. Long) =  2000g (4lb6.25oz)
    • #2 (Mr. Thick) = 2275g (5.0lb)
  • Update 4/22/11 weights:
    • #1 (Mr. Long) =  1800g  (90% of starting weight)
    • #2 (Mr. Thick) = 1990g (87% of starting weight)
  • Update 4/28/11 weights:
    • #1 (Mr. Long) =  1770g  (88% of starting weight)
    • #2 (Mr. Thick) = 1920g (84% of starting weight)
  • Final weights:
    • 5/6/11 #1 = (Mr. Long) =  1720g  (86% of starting weight)
    • 4/29/11 #2 (Mr. Thick) = 1910g (83% of starting weight)
  • Finished product and tasting notes: Smells fantastic, a bit of whitish mold at the top ends where the meat has dried the most… on second thought, it could be crystallized salt.  The taste is SALTY, but delicious.  It borders on “this is too salty to eat” but then two minutes later you’re picking another bit out of the pan and popping it in your mouth.  If I had a bar, I’d fry up little pieces and put it in bowls.  Beer sales would triple.  Probably should have rinsed, soaked, and rinsed once or twice more before rolling.  I only barely rinsed off the brine/cure, and then let it dry overnight in the fridge before rolling.  I don’t know why Mr. Long didn’t drop weight even after a whole week more drying.  The pancetta is best used as an ingredient — dice it up and throw it in the bottom of the pan before cooking greens, or sauce, or eggs, or almost anything else.  This was leaner than most store-bought pancetta I’ve seen.  I probably could have left a bit more fat on the meat.
Pancetta v.1, “Mr. Thick”
Salty, but good

Addendum: In an effort to “desalinate”, I took a few slices and immersed them in some warm water, changing it 3 times over a half hour.  The pancetta hydrated and started to look exactly like bacon does, instead of more prociutto-ish.  When I fried up the slices, it sizzled and crisped exactly like bacon, and tasted less salty.  Delicious.

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