Today was the day the pancetta was supposed to be finished. And as things often go when learning to do something new it wasn't meant to be. When I cut down the pancetta and sliced the top off it was apparent that the drying time was not long enough. I was curious about this recipe and it's short two week drying process. It needs more drying, maybe another two weeks or more. The possible reasons for the incomplete drying are many, but more than likely the back bedroom where I had the pancetta hanging wasn't warm enough. The ideal temp is around 60 degrees with a60% humidity. The humidity here in the northern Sacramento Valley isn't any where near 60% but that doesn't appear to be a problem because a couple mists of water took care of that. But having a temperature below 60 degrees most of the time may have impaired the drying.
This past Friday while driving through Napa I took a moment to stop at the Fatted Calf Charcuterie to look around. I love this place, it’s full of great and wonderful animal parts that have been cured, brined or salted. It smells simply wonderful. While there I purchased a little of their pancetta so that I could compare color and density when it came time to unveil mine.
It’s impossible to do a real comparison because the Fatted Calf uses a completely different grade of pork than I purchased for my pancetta (much, much better). But it’s still easy to see the Fatted Calf pancetta on the right is much dryer than mine is on the right. My pancetta has not even begun to get the dry density of the Fatted Calf product. With my pancetta the fat close to the inside still has a soft mushy consistency.
The flavor was nothing like the Fatted Calf pancetta but since I don’t know their seasonings and curing process it doesn’t mean much. I did fry a slice of mine and taste it and the flavor was very, very good.
The pancetta is back in the drying closet. I believe with the temperature rising every day around here that I’ve got a good chance of having a dry pancetta in another week or so.