Home-Cured Pancetta – Part 1
One of my very favorite days of the year is the day I pick my my half hog from my organic farm. I drive the hour or so north to Valley Packing, where they have processed the meat according to my directions – how thick do I want the chops? How many per package? Do I want the hams fresh or smoked, whole or halved? And most importantly to me this year, what about the belly? I’ve been wanting to make pancetta for years now, but you need to have a rather large piece of pork belly. So at nearly $30 a pound for pancetta in the grocery store, compared with about $3 a pound for the half hog I purchased, this was a no brainer. I made my way down to the Savory Spice Shop in Denver because they carry the crucial pink salt. Turns out they had a bevy of other spices and blends I just “couldn’t live without”.Pink salt is also called Curing Salt – it’s the salt that contains sodium nitrite which keeps the meat from turning brown.And it truly is pink, so there is no mistaking it with other salts. If you don’t have a spice shop that carries it, you can buy it online. You don’t need much so don’t need to buy in bulk. What makes pancetta so flavorful is the combination of herbs and spices and aromatics that are in the cure – and it’s not smoked like traditional American bacon. So I made up my cure mix today and rubbed it all over that 5+ pound piece of pork belly, then wrapped it tightly in plastic wrap and plastic bags. I’ll check it every few days to redistribute the cure, and in 7-10 days it should be ready for Part 2. Stay tuned!
- 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons whole juniper berries
- ⅓ cup coarse Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons pink salt (curing salt)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 dry bay leaves, crumbled
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
- 5 pounds pork belly, skin removed
- Combine peppercorns and juniper berries in a spice grinder and pulse until coarsely chopped. Pour into a small bowl and add all remaining ingredients for the cure. Pat pork belly dry. lay several layers of long sheets of plastic wrap on the counter, overlapping the edges. Spread about half of the cure mixture on the plastic wrap in a shape the size of the pork belly. Lay pork belly, fat side down,on top and press it down into the cure mixture. Pour the other half of the cure mixture on the meat side of the pork belly and rub it evenly all over. Press some of the cure mixture onto all four sides, then wrap the pork belly tightly with several layers of plastic wrap.
- Place inside a large plastic bag and refrigerate with a weighted pan for 7 days, checking and adjusting the cure every day or two as needed. Once it feels uniformly firm (as early as 7 days, or up to 10 days), remove the pork belly, rinse it clean of the cure, and pat dry with paper towels. Refer to instructions for Home-Cured Pancetta - Part 2 to complete the cure.
One Comment • Comments Feed