Pancetta is Italian for a cured pork belly. Here we look at six variants.
- Pancetta Steccata (flat pancetta)
- Pancetta Arrotolata (rolled pancetta)
- Pancetta Tesa (bacon)
- Pancetta with Black Pepper
- Lean and Derined
- Legatura pancetta
1. Pancetta Steccata (flat pancetta) by Rob Agostinelli
I left the skin on this piece of belly and trimmed about 3/4” of the meat all the way around but left the skin to sew it closed later on. (The trimmings of the pancetta are used for the fat part of the salami (lardelli) or to make greaves; the traditional way of making Pancetta Steccata is to keep the rind on)
Then I dry Eq cured the belly in vacuum pack for 14 days.
I pulled it and washed it under cold water then rinsed with white wine.
I seasoned the belly with black pepper then folded it over and sewed it shut all the way around. Sewing the rind wasn’t easy. I used a pair of pliers to help push the needle through the tough skin. (I would add a mix of Transglutaminase, ratio 4:1 by weight; I also like picking the skin to facilitate drying)
I put 2 wooden boards on each side on the pancetta tightened with clamps and tied them together as tightly as possible. Then I took another string and tied the strings together to tighten it further. This worked initially but as the pancetta dried it was difficult to tighten it further so I ended up drilling a hole through the board on each of the ends and tightening with 2 bolts.
As the pancetta was drying, the first couple weeks I kept tightening the bolts until the belly squished out and filled any gaps left in the skin where it was stitched closed. After 30 days I removed it from the press and hung it back in the chamber, I pulled it after another 60 days.
(The traditional way of making the Pancetta Steccata (flat pancetta) is with a sweet-flavour)
The total weight loss was 28%
Dried at 7C – 78% Rh.
An alternative way of fastening it:
“After speaking to my Uncle’s Mother, who is from Sicilia, I was inspired to make this. She didn’t tell me a recipe, but more paved a map for me to develop my own. She said that her Nonno would make this with Sea Salt, Sicilian Oregano, Garlic, Wild Fennel Seeds, Peperoncino Dolce, and Black Pepper. They would heavily, heavily season it as well. With that, I formulated my own recipe for this product, and research began (books, Italian internet sites, and blogs)(turns out the flavor profile told to me is similar to what others use). I used
0.25% Cure #2, and
Black Pepper for the curing mix.
I cured the belly for, skin-on, for 15 days. I chose to equilibrium cure, as I hate rinsing. I guess it is just a peeve of mine (I guess I feel I am “washing away flavor”…).
2.75% is my preference for salt, so curing to my exact taste is why I chose to equilibriate, as opposed to salt box method. I then pricked the skin to later facilitate even drying, then squared off the belly. When applying the spice mixture I also used Activa GS as a failsafe to ensure the belly would stick together. This is NOT traditional, and I know. It is the modern butcher in me I guess…
After applying the spice mix and transglutaminase I used my twine needle and hemp twine to sew the exposed edges together. Once sewed together I placed the tied belly in my “press” I constructed. The belly was very wide, so I had to construct an adequate press. The wood against the meat is untreated red oak. I chose the red oak as it is very hard, and would not buckle under the pressure. It also provides a much more even pressing, in my opinion. I proceeded to strap it as tight as possible with new car strap systems on all sides off the 24 x 4 x 2 whitewood pieces. Well, it is ready to dry! I do pan on uncasing the Pancetta from the press in a few weeks, but we shall see… On to the drying chamber now for about 5 months, or until it is done. Chamber settings for me are 58ºF. 75-80% rH.”
Sewn together (this took Evan 45 minutes to do!)
2 more pieces of whitewood, same size, on top of the red oak.
Strap pancetta tightly and snug.
2. Pancetta Arrotolata (rolled pancetta) by Mark DiGregorio
2.25% salt, .25% cure2, .5% brown sugar, .2% bp wp and fennel pollen, .15% garlic powder. Cured for 2 weeks…rolled and tied tight. Place in curing chamber
Jason Morgan does it as follows:
A pancetta arrotolata (rolled). I scored a nice big belly via Justin and was holding it to do another pancetta. I wanted it to be as big as the sky, as tasty as my last one, and as beautiful as Mark Browns (well, almost). I also wanted something different, so I’m playing with unsweetened/unsulfured coconut flake. A bit of toasted fennel, honey and cinnamon. I used cinnamon in my last pancetta and it was a hit. Here’s the spice mix.
To your belly, add:
2% kosher salt
.25% cure #2
.5% honey (I used granular honey and weighed)
.4% toasted fennel
.5% coconut flake
That all goes in rub/cure with your belly. Make sure you get all this mix in your cure bag. Put in fridge and massage and flip every other day. This one sat in eq cure for almost 30 days. Just got around to it.
I believe it was Philip Favia that suggests we beat our meat to prep it for rolling. That works well. Finishing spices were only black pepper on the inside before rolling it up. I trussed it up typical salami manner but left larger spaces, then came back around with a second, tighter trussing the way a culetello is done. It really seems to put the clench on it evenly. Time will tell. It’s a nice 2.8kg pancetta. It is hanging in my 65F cellar for now and will be moved to different environments as needed. You can see the dripping action in the pics. The trussing appears to be tight!
From David Hampton
Old school, approx 2.5% salt, applied with white wine and BP. Rubbed into meat, rolled, wrapped with a few cut fibrous summer sausage casings. Tied real tight and hung at 7.5C and 80% RH. W/l was only 30%. Quite soft but dry enough to be silky soft!
Comments: May want to review the use of wine when you want it to stay together after slicing. Wine may denature proteins and “loose” binding. The longer you rest it, the better it will bins.
RG, however, achieves good bind with orange and red wine.
3. Pancetta Tesa (bacon) by Chris Varner
2.5 % salt, 0.25% #2, 0.5% brn sugar, 0.2% white pepper, 0.2% crk’d black pepper, 0.2 % crk’d fennel seed, 0.15% gran garlic.
12 hours cold smoke over 48hours, then dried for 3 months with a 26% loss. Then, vac pac.
Lorenzovinci describes four phases in making it.
- the first is the salting where the meat is sprinkled with a mixture of salt and spices
- the second provides a period of rest so that the salt and the aromas can be distributed and uniformed in the meat
- in the third phase the pancetta is massaged and left to dry in appropriate rooms for 3-4 days
- finally there is the seasoning , a phase that lasts about two months
4. Pancetta with Black Pepper
“WEIGHT : 3.5 kg.
LENGTH : cm 44.
DIAMETER : 12 cm.
QUALITY : the star of the Villani pancetta range, Pancetta with black pepper (black pepper pancetta) is entirely hand-made. The pork, of choice Italian origin, with the rind and a little fat trimmed off, is hand-salted with sea salt. It is then coated with a thin layer of fresh garlic before being rolled, and tied. The pancetta is then coated with black pepper, which gives it a fragrance without making it hot. Hand-tied, it undergoes a curing process lasting no less than 60 days.
FLAVOR : unique for fragrance and rounded flavor. Very sweet and tasty Its soft texture melts in the mouth, delighting the most gourmet discerning.” (villanisalumi.it)
5. Pancetta – Lean and Derined
“WEIGHT : 3.5 kg.
LENGTH : 41 cm.
DIAMETER : cm 11.
QUALITY : made from choice Italian pork belly. Both the “lean” and the “derinded” types undergo a process comprising trimming, squaring, hand-salting with sea-salt, standing, tying and casing, drying and curing. Lean : made from derinded pork belly, opened out and with the fat trimmed off. Derinded : made from derinded pork belly
FLAVOR: tasty and traditional.” (villanisalumi.it)