Pancetta is an Italian style bacon that has been cured with salt, pepper and other spices. Unlike English and American bacon, Pancetta is not normally not smoked. Pancetta is usually rolled into sausage type shapes unlike other bacon. I purchased a 6 pound piece of fresh skin on pork belly earlier in the week. The first step in the pancetta curing process is removing the skin. You need a very sharp boning knife to accomplish this. Start in one of the corners with a little slice under the skin.
By slowly pulling up and back on the skin and making small slices along the base of the skin you can slowly peel it back. It’s time consuming because you need to take care not to cut away to much mean and fat.
Once the skin has been removed you can start preparing the cure.
The cure calls for kosher salt, “pink salt,” Juniper Berries, peppercorns, Thyme, Rosemary, bay leaves and brown sugar. Use a skillet or sauce pan to break up the juniper berries and peppercorns before mixing them into all the other dry cures.
At the recent Winter Fancy Food Show I received some sample of different Billington’s sugars. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to try out the dark brown sugar. It has a flavor unlike any other brown sugar I’ve every used. Can’t wait to see what difference it makes.
Spread the cure on all sides of pork belly. It’s important to make sure you get the cure even all over.
The pork belly goes into a 2 gallon zip lock back and placed into a 9 X 13 dish.
A plastic cutting board and some weight keeps the pork belly flat. The weight also helps to force some of the moisture out of the meat during the curing process.
The pork belly will remain in the cure of 10 days. Every other day the pork belly will be turned over. I’ll take a picture or two during the process for updates.
The recipe I used can be found at Chow.