Know Your Pig: Pancetta
Cured meats have not been featured enough on Chomposaurus; but like the best of their kind, this blog has now been salted and aged for long enough to know when it’s missing something. Thus, we bring you a bit of vital info about the bacon of Italy, pancetta.
To make pancetta, pork belly is salted and spiced, then dried for an average of three months. It is not smoked, unlike your typical American bacon. No two batches of pancetta taste alike – temperature, humidity and mold in the room where it’s cured greatly affect the taste (and yes, some mold is good.) For more on making your own pancetta, articles are here and here.
Rolled pancetta is rolled into a log, tied securely during aging, then sliced width-wise, so the white fat makes it look like a swirly lollipop of mouth-watering meat.
Straight pancetta (or “a slab”) has the fat on one side. In this way you can pretend you are eating some sort of healthy food by looking at the lean side. Hey, it works with that weird purple dye they put in blueberry donuts.
When serverd, pancetta looks like uncooked bacon, but believe me, you’ll be glad it’s slightly chewy. That lets you savor the rich olive-oil flavor as it mixes with the frothing ham juices. When not served alone or atop pizza or pasta, it’s frequently used to make flavorful stews or to add meaty zest to stuffing. You can even wrap figs in it to continue that “healthy” illusion.